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15 September 2011
Deep male voice boosts women's memory
by George Atkinson

Speak to women in a deep, low pitched voice if you want them to remember. That's according to a new study by David Smith and colleagues from the University of Aberdeen (UK). Their work, published in the journal Memory & Cognition, shows for the first time that a deep masculine voice is important for both mate choice and the accuracy of women's memory. The researchers speculate that evolution may have shaped women's ability to remember information associated with desirable men.

Smith and his co-researchers say that male voice pitch can indicate genetic quality as well as signal behavioral traits undesirable in a long-term partner. These could include antisocial traits and lack of emotional warmth for example. In order to evaluate potential partners, women appear to rely on their memories to rapidly provide information about the attributes and past behavior of potential partners.

In one experiment, women were initially shown an image of a single object while listening to the name of the object spoken either by a high or low pitch male or female manipulated voice. They were then shown two similar but not identical versions of the object and asked to identify the one they had seen earlier. The women were also asked which voice they preferred.

In a second experiment, as well as manipulated voices, the researchers used real male and female voices to test how 46 new women rated the voices and how they scored on object memory.

In both experiments, the researchers found that the women had a strong preference for the low pitched male voice and remembered objects more accurately when they have been introduced by the deep male voice.

"Our findings demonstrate that women's memory is enhanced with lower pitch male voices, compared with the less attractive raised pitch male voices. Our two experiments indicate for the first time that signals from the opposite-sex that are important for mate choice also affect the accuracy of women's memory," concluded Smith.

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Source: Memory & Cognition

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