A super helpful new study from Can't Stop, Won't Stop U...niversity of Miami suggests that we, as a lowing aggregate of voting cattle, respond strongest to the most gravelly, Clint Eastwood lower among us when we're deciding on who to put at the head of a stampede. That means that both men and women, the research suggests (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), not only prefer their male leaders to have deep, baritone voices — they also prefer their female leaders to have low voices.
Before we go galavanting off with the findings, it's important to note that the study, which was co-authored by University of Miami political scientist Casey Klofstad and recently appeared in the journal PLoS One, measured participants' interest in hypothetical candidates. In other words, no real candidates were harmed in the making of this highly speculative study and there really is no telling how much real candidates are judged by the pitch of their voices (LiveScience's Tia Ghose points out that Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi each have lower-pitched voices, if that's enough of a correlation to raise your eyebrows).
So is this study just a big pile of nothing? Not quite — Klofstad notes that people use voice pitch to make important snap judgments. The prevailing gender myths, for instance, dictate that women with high-pitched voices are more sexually attractive, while men with deep, mellifluous voices (more mellifluous than Batman, for sure) are perceived as socially dominant and, therefore, attractive. Like gorillas or something. Everyone's a gorilla — we're all gorillas. Klofstad and his gaggle of research assistants wanted to find out if people preferred deep-voiced women to hold positions of leadership that haven't, like political office, historically been held by men. To that end, his team asked 71 college to vote for a school board candidate from a pool of 10 pairs of female and 10 pairs of male candidates based just on hearing the candidates repeat the sentence, "I urge you to vote for me this November" (each pair of voiceovers featured the same voice manipulated at higher and lower pitches). Students also voted for president of a fictional PTA.
About three quarters of the time, both men and women preferred female candidates with lower voices. Men opted for manlier Tom Selleck voices for male candidates about 60 percent of the time, while women didn't seem to have a preference for a male candidate's voice pitch. The moral of the story, Klofstad concluded, is that, if you're a politician, you'd better growl through your speeches like Batman, because that's what the people want, and the people gets what the people wants.
People Prefer Female Leaders With Deeper Voices [LiveScience]