In one study, researchers capitalized on the fact that in the animal world, males lower their pitch to exude physical dominance and ward off competitors, and also to seem more sexually desirable to females. The study, out of the Department of Psychology at State University of New York at Albany, found that people who reported being more sexually experienced and sexually active were found to have more attractive voices by total strangers. In other words, the qualities the raters were identifying as attractive represented people’s mating behaviors and sexual desirability.
And it seems we already know this, even on a subconscious level. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, found that both men and women tend to lower their voices if they find someone they are conversing with attractive, although some experts suggest that women will make their voices even more high-pitched in the presence of a potential suitor, to accentuate their femininity.
Another indicator of attraction involves phonetic convergence, in which people talking to each other eventually start sounding similar without even knowing it. The similarities involve everything from pitch to speech rate. It can happen over months or years, or sometimes even very short periods of time. A study published in the Journal of Social and Relationships suggests that people try to be more similar to people they’re attracted to.
And it seems we like when people sound like us, according to psychologist James Pennebaker, PhD, as reported by NPR. Through his research, Dr Pennebaker found that, when the language of two people matches—meaning they use similar pronouns, prepositions, articles, and more in similar ways at similar rates—they are much more likely to go on a date. “When two people are paying close attention, they use language in the same way,” he says. “And it’s one of these things that humans do automatically.”
The research is intriguing, but even more important, the results suggest a reality that is out of our hands. Why? Because we make these seemingly subtle changes without even realizing it. And that’s a good thing, because it means we don’t have to try—our brains are pre-programmed to do what’s needed when we face an attractive partner.
On the other hand, the cat is out of the bag, and all this research allows you to keep your ears open for whether someone is into you or not.