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Tuesday
Feb242015

Vocal Cues of Fertility: Bachelor 19’s Whitney Bischoff May Be the Ultimate Prize

Full disclosure: Watching The Bachelor/ette is a huge guilty pleasure of mine. It’s fascinating not just for the entertaining drama, but also as a unique case study of relationship dynamics. If you’re unfamiliar, The Bachelor is a reality TV show in which 25-30 beautiful and presumably single women contend for the attention, love, and marriage proposal of one eligible gent over the course of about two months of filming. Every season is chock-a-block with romantic and often extravagant dates, profuse amounts of smooching, and (sometimes ridiculous) drama. (Disclaimer: Before I get to the meat of this article, I should make it clear that that while I find the show very amusing, I don’t find the format to be particularly realistic, nor do I feel like the format allows for a strong foundation that can foster a future long-term relationship to be built—though there seem to be a few happy exceptions.)

When I watch The Bachelor/ette, I love to shamelessly analyze the contestants and try to make connections to research (after all, I am a relationship science nerd). There are always a few contestants who stand out, for better or worse, and this season I’m a bit mesmerized with Whitney Bischoff in a good way. She seems very classy, but more than that, she has a very distinct voice. The pitch is quite high, and though some people might find it a bit intense, it may actually make her more appealing to our current Bachelor, Chris.

Why? Studies suggest that female voice pitch is positively related to youth and fertility. Additionally, men rate higher-pitched voices as more attractive.1 In one study, David Feinberg and colleagues manipulated female voice pitch in a brief audio recording and asked participants to rate how attractive they found the voice. They found that increasing pitch by just 20 Hz above a starting pitch enhanced vocal attractiveness ratings regardless of whether the starting pitch was lower than, equivalent to, and higher than the average (i.e., typical) female voice pitch.2 It seems, then, men viewed women with higher-pitched voices as being particularly feminine and desirable.3

In sum, men are more attracted to female voices with higher pitch in general, as well as when the voice is higher than its baseline. So in terms of snagging Bachelor Chris, it seems like Whitney’s got all the other ladies beat pitch-wise. And considering that higher vocal pitch may be an indicator of fertility, if Chris ends up picking Whitney (fingers crossed) and they last, we may next find ourselves keeping track of how many babies they pop out!

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1Collins, S. A., & Missing, C. (2003). Vocal and visual attractiveness are related in women. Animal Behavior, 65, 997-1004. doi: 10.1006/anbe.2003.2123

2Feinberg, D. R., DeBruine, L. M., Jones, B. C., & Perrett, D. I. (2008). The role of femininity and averageness of voice pitch in aesthetic judgments of women’s voices. Perception, 37, 615-623. doi: 10.1068/p5514

3Feinberg, D. R., Jones, B. C., DeBruine, L. M., Moore, F. R., Law Smith, M. J., Cornwell, R. E.,…Perrett, D. I. (2005). The voice and face of woman: One ornament that signals quality? Evolution and Human Behavior, 26, 398-408. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2005.04.001

Sarah Stanton, M.Sc. - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Sarah is interested in how different types of people think, feel, and behave in relationships, the positive and negative relationship outcomes associated with low self-regulatory ability, and how relationship experiences influence goal pursuit, bodily stress responses, and mental and physical health outcomes. Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

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