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The depths of attraction

Women are more likely to prefer the deep masterful tones of Barry White to the feminised vocals of James Blunt when looking for a mate, according to scientists.

Research led by psychologists at the University of St Andrews has found that women prefer men with masculine voices, especially during their most fertile phase. The new study suggests that fertile women prefer men with dominant voices because they signal strong genes thought to indicate long-term health and higher reproductive success.

Researcher Dr David Feinberg said: “We already know that male vocal attractiveness is highly related to masculinity and men with attractive voices have more mating success than men with unattractive voices. We asked women to assess attractiveness and dominance of voices across the menstrual cycle and predicted that preference for masculinity in men’s voices would be stronger when conception risk is high.”

The study follows previous research which has found that women’s preference for men with more masculine faces is enhanced during the fertile phase, meaning that women prefer men with masculine faces and voices as a potential mate or short-term partner.

However, the researchers found that when not fertile, the preference was with women being more likely to be attracted to a more feminine voice signalling a more caring man, more likely to invest in a long-term relationship. Only attractive, feminine women did not vary preference over the menstrual cycle, possibly because they may find it easier to establish a long-term relationship with men with deep voices, indicative of high levels of testosterone.

Dr Feinberg continued: “Women’s preferences for masculine voices change over the menstrual cycle: women prefer masculine voices more when fertile. But, the menstrual cycle does not affect every woman’s preferences equally. While we normally think that masculine men are more out for one- night stands than marriage, our research suggests that highly attractive and feminine women can get these masculine men to look for commitment.”

The research is published by Hormones and Behaviour, issue 49 (2006).

Test your own preferences for voices and faces at www.perceptionlab.com and www.faceresearch.org

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

Dr Feinberg is available for interview on 001-617-496-6575 (NB the time difference is -­5 hours) or email drf3@st-andrews.ac.uk

Issued by Beattie Media ­ www.beattiegroup.com On behalf of the University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- andrews.ac.uk

Ref: the depths of attraction 230206.doc

View the latest University press releases at http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk

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