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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02029

Vocal parameters of speech and singing covary and are related to vocal attractiveness, body measures, and sociosexuality: A cross-cultural study

  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of São Paulo, Brazil
  • 2Department of Zoology, Division of Biology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Czechia
  • 3Department of Basic Psychological Processes, University of Brasilia, Brazil
  • 4Charles University, Czechia

Perceived vocal attractiveness and measured sex-dimorphic vocal parameters are both associated with underlying individual qualities. Research tends to focus on speech but singing is another highly evolved communication system that has distinct and universal features with analogues in other species, and it is relevant in mating. Both speaking and singing voice provides relevant information about its producer. We tested whether speech and singing function as ‘backup signals’ that indicate similar underlying qualities. Using a sample of 81 men and 86 women from Brazil and the Czech Republic, we investigated vocal attractiveness rated from speech and singing and its association with fundamental frequency (F0), formant frequencies (VTL), body characteristics, and sociosexuality. F0, VTL, and rated attractiveness of singing and speaking voice strongly correlated within the same individual. Lower-pitched speech in men, higher-pitched speech and singing in women, individuals who like to sing more, and both male and female signing voices with a higher pitch modulation were more attractive. In men, physical size positively predicted speech and singing attractiveness. Male speech but not singing attractiveness was associated with higher sociosexuality. Lower-pitched male speech was related to higher sociosexuality, while lower-pitched male singing was linked to lower sociosexuality. Similarly, shorter speech VTL and longer singing VTL predicted higher sociosexuality in women. Different vocal displays function as ‘backup signals’ cueing to attractiveness and body size, but their relation to sexual strategies in men and women differs. Both singing and speech may indicate evolutionarily relevant individual qualities shaped by sexual selection.

Keywords: Human voice, Vocal attractiveness, fundamental frequency, sociosexuality, Physical size

Received: 31 Oct 2018; Accepted: 20 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Valentova, Tureček, Varella, Mendes, Pereira, Kubicova, Stolarova and Havlicek. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jaroslava V. Valentova, University of São Paulo, Department of Experimental Psychology, Institute of Psychology, São Paulo, Brazil, jarkavalentova@gmail.com