Women's voices sound less Mariella and more Marilyn during ovulation

A woman's voice becomes more attractive to both men and women at the point in her monthly cycle when she is at her most fertile, according to a study of vocal changes during ovulation.

If the findings can be replicated, they will add further weight to the theory that women give off subtle and unwitting cues about their fertility as part of an evolutionary battle of the sexes centred on attractiveness and fidelity.

The research also found that men tend to find higher-pitched female voices more attractive: so the idea is that a woman's voice would sound less like Mariella Frostrup and more like Marilyn Monroe at a certain time of the month.

Unlike most mammals, human females show no obvious signs of oestrus – the point when they ovulate and are at their most fertile – but some scientists believe there may be hidden signals that men, and other women, can subconsciously identify.

Nathan Pipitone and Gordon Gallup, of the State University of New York in Albany, investigated vocal attractiveness by recording female volunteers counting from one to 10 at four different points in their menstrual cycle, which they categorised as low to high risk of conception.

They then asked a panel of men and women to listen to the recorded voices and give their unbiased assessment as to whether they sounded attractive or not. Both sexes judged the women's voices to be sexiest when they were recorded at the times during their menstrual cycle when they were at their most fertile.

"The results showed a significant increase in voice attractiveness ratings as the risk of conception increased across the menstrual cycle in naturally cycling women. There was no effect for women using hormonal contraceptives," the scientists said. "More work is needed to identify the biological mechanisms that underlie these perceptual differences, but growing evidence points to the impact of hormones on the larynx as being the source of these changes," they say in the study, to be published in the Journal of Evolution and Human Behaviour.

A separate study by Gregory Bryant and Martie Haselton, of the University of California in Los Angeles, investigates the pitch of 33 women's voices at various points in the menstrual cycle. They found that the women tended to become higher pitched at the most fertile point of the cycle, during ovulation.

Previous work on female voice pitch had established that men tend to find higher-pitched voices more attractive. Taken together, the findings of all three studies suggest that the female voice increases in pitch at the most fertile moment of the monthly cycle.

The fact that men notice differences in vocal attractiveness suggests there is a subtle evolutionary battle of the sexes going on, Dr Gallup told New Scientist magazine. As women evolve ever more efficient ways to conceal fertility, men become increasingly sensitive to the small and subtle changes that take place.

Other scientists have documented changes to body scents, flirtatious behaviour and style of dress that they believe are also used as clues to a woman's fertility status. For instance, Geoffrey Millar, of the University of New Mexico, has shown that lap dancers tend to be given bigger tips by male customers when the women are ovulating. "The voice changes might explain some of the shift in lap dancer tip earnings. Dancers certainly chat with their customers," Dr Millar told New Scientist.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit