J. J. M. O’Connor, P. J. Fraccaro, K. Pisanski, C. C. Tigue, T. J. O'Donnell, D. R. Feinberg
Evolution and Human Behavior (In Press, May 2014)
Low male voice pitch may communicate potential benefits for offspring in the form of heritable health and/or dominance, whereas access to resources may be indicated by correlates of socioeconomic status, such as sociolinguistic features. Here, we examine if voice pitch and social dialect influence women’s perceptions of men’s socioeconomic status and attractiveness. In Study 1, women perceived lower pitched male voices as higher in socioeconomic status than higher pitched male voices. In Study 2, women independently perceived lower pitched voices and higher status sociolinguistic dialects as higher in socioeconomic status and attractiveness. We also found a significant interaction wherein women preferred lower pitched men’s voices more often when dialects were lower in sociolinguistic status than when they were higher in sociolinguistic status. Women also perceived lower pitched voices as higher in socioeconomic status more often when dialects were higher in sociolinguistic status than when lower in sociolinguistic status. Finally, women’s own self-rated socioeconomic status was positively related to their preferences for voices with higher status sociolinguistic dialects, but not to their preferences for voice pitch. Hence, women’s preferences for traits associated with potentially biologically heritable benefits, such as low voice pitch, are moderated by the presence of traits associated with resource accrual, such as social dialect markers. However, women’s preferences for language markers of resource accrual may be functionally independent from preferences for potential biological indicators of heritable benefits, such as voice pitch.