Sounds like a winner: Voice pitch influences perception of leadership capacity in both men and women

Casey A. Klofstad, Rindy C. Anderson, Susan Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


It is well known that non-human animals respond to information encoded in vocal signals, and the same can be said of humans. Specifically, human voice pitch affects how speakers are perceived. As such, does voice pitch affect how we perceive and select our leaders? To answer this question, we recorded men and women saying ‘I urge you to vote for me this November’. Each recording was manipulated digitally to yield a higher- and lower-pitched version of the original. We then asked men and women to vote for either the lower- or higher-pitched version of each voice. Our results show that both men and women select male and female leaders with lower voices. These findings suggest that men and women with lower-pitched voices may be more successful in obtaining positions of leadership. This might also suggest that because women, on average, have higher-pitched voices than men, voice pitch could be a factor that contributes to fewer women holding leadership roles than men. Additionally, while people are free to choose their leaders, these results clearly demonstrate that these choices cannot be understood in isolation from biological influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2698-2704
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1738
StatePublished - Jul 7 2012


  • Leadership
  • Perception
  • Voice pitch
  • Voting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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