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Vocal Dominance

August 28, 2006

Men’s vocal inflections indicate whether they’re up for a fight.


How men are like dogs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When two dogs square off, the top dog growls, while the submissive pooch whimpers. Men do something similar, according to neuroscientist David Puts. At the University of Pittsburgh, he created a Dating Game-like experiment involving single men. Each man was told he was competing with a guy in the next room for a date with an attractive woman. After briefly hearing his competitor’s voice, which was actually just a recording, he had to tell the woman why she should pick him instead.

DAVID PUTS (University of Pittsburgh):

Males who thought that they were physically dominant, in other words, able to win fights, would lower their voice pitch during this dating-game interaction, and men who thought they were not physically dominant tended to raise their pitch.

What’s more, he says the participants were totally unaware they were doing it. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.