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Deeper Voice Gives Electoral Advantage

Study subjects tended to pick the deeper-voiced candidate when they heard anonymous voices purported to be running for office. Karen Hopkin reports

As voters vacillate among the contenders for the Republican nomination, it may matter less what the candidates say than how they sound when they say it. Because a new study shows that voters are more likely to prefer the candidate with the deeper voice.

Previous studies have suggested that voters might go for the baritone over the tenor. But those experiments used recordings of former U.S. presidents, which meant that volunteer listeners might have recognized the speakers and voted along party lines.

In this study, researchers played subjects a pair of anonymous voices and asked which they would elect: “I urge you to vote for me this November” or “I urge you to vote for me this November.”

Okay, the recordings they used were no doubt less comical. But voters went with the overnight DJ hands down, results that appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  [Casey A. Klofstad, Rindy C. Anderson and Susan Peters, "Sounds like a winner: voice pitch influences perception of leadership capacity in both men and women"]

So why do we tend to elect Orson Welles over Pee Wee Herman? Deep voices may strike some primal chord, giving the impression of strength and competence. So candidates take heed: it’s great to wave the stars and stripes, but what’s really key is your set of pipes.

—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

 

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