Using two experiments, Psychologist David S. Smith and colleagues provided evidence that memory in women is tuned into the pitch of a male voice, hearing the depth of spoken tones as an indicator of a possible mate's genetic superiority -- or undesirability (from simple lack of emotional warmth to complex antisocial behavior patterns) -- and as a subconscious cue activating long-term memory, so women develop a rapidly accessible inner database of potential partners' attributes and actions, Springer Select
reported about the team's findings that have been published online in Springer's journal, Memory & Cognition
In the first test, 45 women were shown an image of an object while the name of the object was spoken by either by a high or low pitched manipulated male or female voice. Next, they were shown two similar but not identical versions of the object and asked to choose which voice they preferred and identify the exact object they had seen in the first round.
In the second test, real male and female voices, along with manipulated voices, were rated by 46 new women who also were scored on their object memory.
In both scenarios, the researchers found that women preferred low pitch male voices and remembered objects that had been named by deeper male voices more accurately.
"Our findings demonstrate that women's memory is enhanced with lower pitch male voices, compared with the less attractive raised pitch male voices. Our two experiments indicate for the first time that signals from the opposite-sex that are important for mate choice also affect the accuracy of women's memory," Smith concluded
Research supervisor Dr. Kevin Allan explained that the team thinks these experimental results show evolution shaped women's memory to respond to deeper voices, and retain more information associated with the most desirable men they encounter in different relationship settings, so they can better pick the best partners as a key survival enhancing ability, since the costs of choosing a mate poorly can be devastating.
But another recent study of the effect of voice quality and speaking style on decision making at the University of Michigan suggested that voice pitch, a possible indicator of body size and corresponding larynx size, is but one of many factors to consider when testing how spoken words affect men and women, and the researchers found low-pitched voices persuaded men more than women in one experiment, ScienceDaily reported