Voice correlates of mating success in men: Examining "contests" versus "mate choice" modes of sexual selection

Carolyn R. Hodges-Simeon, Steven J.C. Gaulin, David A. Puts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Men's copulatory success can often be predicted by measuring traits involved in male contests and female choice. Previous research has demonstrated relationships between one such vocal trait in men, mean fundamental frequency (F 0), and the outcomes and indicators of sexual success with women. The present study investigated the role of another vocal parameter, F 0 variation (the within-subject SD in F 0 across the utterance, F 0-SD), in predicting men's reported number of female sexual partners in the last year. Male participants (N = 111) competed with another man for a date with a woman. Recorded interactions with the competitor ("competitive recording") and the woman ("courtship recording") were analyzed for five non-linguistic vocal parameters: F 0-SD, mean F 0, intensity, duration, and formant dispersion (D f, an acoustic correlate of vocal tract length), as well as dominant and attractive linguistic content. After controlling for age and attitudes toward uncommitted sex (SOI), lower F 0-SD (i.e., a more monotone voice) and more dominant linguistic content were strong predictors of the number of past-year sexual partners, whereas mean F 0 and D f did not significantly predict past-year partners. These contrasts have implications for the relative importance of male contests and female choice in shaping men's mating success and hence the origins and maintenance of sexually dimorphic traits in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-557
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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