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Women misjudge men's physical characteristics based on vocal cues

Lukasz Piotr Pawelec, Katarzyna Graja, Anna Lipowicz & Jagoda Marchewczyk (2023). Women misjudge men's physical characteristics based on vocal cues. Bioacoustics, Volume 32 (5): 556 -579



Voice is an important biological cue, which may reveal a significant amount of information about an individual. Particularly in males, it plays a crucial role in processes like male competition or sexual selection. Additionally, voice can provide a cue for body size assessment. This study investigates the relationship between male voice characteristics and physical features (assessed by women) and determines the accuracy of these assessments. Three groups of female judges assessed 60 male voices (20 different voices per group) across seven categories of male physical features: height, body fat, musculature, body shape, hirsuteness, age and strength. Recordings of five vowels and sentence and number of anthropometric measurements were made for each of the studied men. Intra- and extragroup agreement of assessments of men’s physical characteristics was demonstrated. Men with lower fundamental frequency (F0) and lower formant dispersion (Df) values were perceived as being heavier, older, stronger and more likely to have chest hair. However, across all the analysed fields of assessment, no accuracy was registered between estimates and men’s actual physical characteristics. These findings suggest that females were guided by stereotypes in their assessment of men’s appearance from voice alone. We propose the size exaggeration hypothesis as an explanation of this phenomenon.


Acoustic size exaggeration, assessment accuracy, body size, formant dispersion, fundamental frequency, nonverbal communication