Candidate Voice Pitch Influences Election Outcomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

A growing literature in psychology shows that human voice pitch—perceived “highness” or “lowness” as determined by the physiology of the throat—influences how speakers are perceived. This leads to the prediction that candidate voice pitch influences voters. Here this question is addressed with two studies. The first is an experiment conducted with a large national sample of U.S. adults. The results show that men and women prefer to vote for male and female candidates with lower pitched voices. The second study examines the outcomes of the 2012 U.S. House elections. When facing male opponents, candidates with lower voices won a larger vote share. However, when facing female opponents, candidates with higher voices were more successful and particularly so in the case of male candidates. In synthesizing research on the human voice and voter behavior and triangulating evidence from a controlled experiment and a large observational study of actual elections, this article illustrates that candidate voice pitch influences election outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-738
Number of pages14
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume37
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Keywords

  • elections
  • leadership
  • perception
  • voice pitch
  • vote choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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