Effects of Voice Pitch on Social Perceptions Vary With Relational Mobility and Homicide Rate

Aung, Toe and Hill, Alexander K. and Hlay, Jessica K. and Hess, Catherine and Hess, Michael and Johnson, Janie and Doll, Leslie and Carlson, Sara M. and Magdinec, Caroline and G-Santoyo, Isaac and Walker, Robert S. and Bailey, Drew and Arnocky, Steven and Kamble, Shanmukh and Vardy, Tom and Kyritsis, Thanos and Atkinson, Quentin and Jones, Benedict and Burns, Jessica and Koster, Jeremy and Palomo-Vélez, Gonzalo and Tybur, Joshua M. and Muñoz-Reyes, José and Choy, Bryan K. C. and Li, Norman P. and Klar, Verena and Batres, Carlota and Bascheck, Patricia and Schild, Christoph and Penke, Lars and Pazhoohi, Farid and Kemirembe, Karen and Valentova, Jaroslava Varella and Varella, Marco Antonio Correa and da Silva, Caio Santos Alves and Borras-Guevara, Martha and Hodges-Simeon, Carolyn and Ernst, Moritz and Garr, Collin and Chen, Bin-Bin and Puts, David (2024) Effects of Voice Pitch on Social Perceptions Vary With Relational Mobility and Homicide Rate. Psychological Science, 35 (3). pp. 250-262. ISSN 0956-7976 (https://doi.org/10.1177/09567976231222288)

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Fundamental frequency ( fo) is the most perceptually salient vocal acoustic parameter, yet little is known about how its perceptual influence varies across societies. We examined how fo affects key social perceptions and how socioecological variables modulate these effects in 2,647 adult listeners sampled from 44 locations across 22 nations. Low male fo increased men’s perceptions of formidability and prestige, especially in societies with higher homicide rates and greater relational mobility in which male intrasexual competition may be more intense and rapid identification of high-status competitors may be exigent. High female fo increased women’s perceptions of flirtatiousness where relational mobility was lower and threats to mating relationships may be greater. These results indicate that the influence of fo on social perceptions depends on socioecological variables, including those related to competition for status and mates.