Candidate voice pitch influences voters, but does not lead to better leaders

March 14, 2018

Voters may prefer voting for candidates with lower sounding voices but they are not necessarily better leaders, a paper recently published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior by University of Miami Professor Casey Klofstad and Professor Rindy Anderson from Florida Atlantic University has revealed.

"Given our earlier findings, that voters prefer candidates with lower voices, the next obvious question to ask is whether individuals with lower voices are actually better leaders," said Klofstad. "Our most recent research shows this is not the case; voice pitch has no relationship with leadership ability."

Prior research by Klofstad and Anderson showed that voters in the United States generally prefer to vote for candidates with lower voices. Their results were based on both laboratory experiments and from studies of real elections, and are consistent regardless of whether the voter and/or candidate is male or female.

These previous results led Anderson and Klofstad to question whether voters are making good choices based on the sound of candidates' voices. Through an experiment testing the persuasiveness of candidates expressing views on policy issues, and an assessment of the leadership ability of Members of the United States Congress, Anderson and Klofstad found no relationship between a candidate's voice pitch (highness or lowness of the voice) and his or her leadership ability.

Overall, these findings address the important question of whether voters' bias in favor of selecting leaders with lower voices is beneficial or harmful to democracy. The results found by Anderson and Klofstad suggest that the perceptual bias is neither: voters influenced by the tone of a candidate's voice are not selecting stronger or more effective leaders, but neither are they selecting "worse" leaders.
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University of Miami

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