Lowering voice may be means of signaling attraction, Susan Hughes, assistant professor of psychology at Albright College in Reading, Pa, found in the study.
We found that both sexes used a lower-pitch voice and showed a higher level of physiological arousal when speaking to a more attractive opposite-sex target," she said.
Hughes - who expected that women would raise their voices to sound more feminine and attractive - was surprised.
"There appears to be a common stereotype in our culture that deems a sexy female voice as one that sounds husky, breathy, and lower-pitched," she said.
"This suggests that the motivation to display a sexy/seductive female voice may conflict with the motivation to sound more feminine," she added.
Female voice manipulation suggests that altering their tone may be a learned behavior based on sexual voice stereotypes rather than actual vocal characteristics of attractiveness.
"When a woman naturally lowers her voice, it may be perceived as her attempt to sound more seductive or attractive, and therefore serves as a signal of her romantic interest," she said.
The study is to be published in the fall by the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.
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