Whether we are aware of it or not, our voices say a lot about us. Relying on only the average pitch of a person’s voice, we can instantly tell if they are a child or adult, a man or woman. This is because voice pitch is highly sexually dimorphic – it is almost twice as low in men as in women. This sex difference emerges during puberty following a surge of testosterone in males that lengthens their vocal folds, causing voice pitch to drop off sharply, and marks sexual maturation in adolescent boys.
Though lesser studied, women’s voices can also reveal clues to their fertility. Scientists have known for decades that women’s voice pitch decreases after menopause, by as much as 35 Hz (for a woman with an average voice pitch, that’s more than three semitones). Among women of reproductive age, more recent research suggests that voice pitch may also increase around ovulation each month and, what’s more, that men prefer the voices of women recorded during this fertile window. Full story.
Katarzyna Pisanski (The Conversation) / May 30, 2018
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