Vote choice, ideology, and social dominance orientation influence preferences for lower pitched voices in political candidates

Lasse Laustsen, Michael Bang Petersen, Casey A Klofstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Humans are equipped with a psychological system of followership that evolved to regulate choices of leaders based partly on would-be leaders' physiological features. One such feature is voice pitch, which is determined by the physiology of the throat. Recent studies find that political candidates in modern elections with lower-pitched voices are generally more successful. As lower-pitched voices are perceived as stronger and more dominant, these findings have been taken to indicate a general preference for dispositional abilities in leaders to protect and prevail in conflicts. Here we extend upon these findings by demonstrating that conservatives and Republicans tend to view the world as much more competitive and threatening than liberals and Democrats. We utilize two existing data sources to show that political candidates with lower-pitched voices are preferred more among conservative Republicans than among liberal Democrats. In a third study we show that preferences for lower-pitched candidate voices stem from individual differences in Social Dominance Orientation (SDO). Importantly, across all three studies subjects' party affiliation, ideology, and SDO only predict preferences for male candidate voices. We conclude with a discussion of the results in relation to followership psychology and general debates on the rationality of the public with respect to elections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015



  • Political candidates
  • Political ideology
  • Social dominance orientation
  • Voice pitch
  • Voting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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