The strength of your man is in his voice

Some guys sound tough – and
according to a new study, that may a good way of predicting whether they really
are.

Results   in the current Proceedings of the Royal
Society B found that people can accurately evaluate the upper-body strength
based on men’s voices from four different populations and language groups. The
voice samples came from the Tsimane of Bolivia, Andean herder-horticulturalists
from Argentina, and college students from the United States and Romania.

Researchers recorded body size and
strength measurements from women and men in each of these groups. These participants
also reported how many fights they had been involved in during the last four
years.

Then, undergraduates from the
University of California, Santa Barbara, rated the voices on physical strength,
height and weight. For the sample of male voices from the United States, raters
assessed “how tough he would be in a physical fight.”

The study found that, for the
sample where data were available, the higher the perceived fighting ability,
the more fights the man in the voice sample had reported being involved in
during the last four years. It is not known how many fights these men won, but
previous research suggests that “more formidable individuals are those
more likely to engage in fights,” the authors wrote.]

For the rest of the samples,
regardless of language spoken in the speech samples, participants rating the
voices reported mostly accurate predictions for physical strength for men, but
not for women. There was no significant difference between how good men and
women were at evaluating the voices.

The results support the idea that
the human voice, especially the male voice, has cues of physical strength, and
that humans have evolved to be able to predict fighting ability based on those
cues. This would have had great benefit to human ancestors, who may have used
this information to their survival benefit – for instance, in choosing whom to
fight with and whom not to confront.

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