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ETpro's avatar

What evolutionary purpose does the difference in male and female voice pitch serve?

Asked by ETpro (34605points) December 21st, 2010

I love to listen to a melodious female voice, to hear a great singer reach notes that leave me sounding like a choked duck. But why did the human male end up with larger vocal chords, an adams apple, and a deep voice while females have a soft, high-pitched one? It must have some evolutionary purpose. Mating selection in the dark?

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13 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Yep. For mating. Estrogen creates a higher, more youthful sounding voice in women. Testosterone produces a deeper voice in men. Essentially it helps us find a fertile mate.

Blueroses's avatar

In child and dog training, the softer and higher voice is soothing and reassuring. The deep guttural male tone is authoritative.

We need both.

ETpro's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Works for me.

@Blueroses Nature is so darned smart. Well, yeah it takes hundreds of millions of years and a manmouth quantity of dead ends to nail down one detail, but each detail ends up very finely tuned. I;m good with needing both!

TexasDude's avatar

Like @TheOnlyNeffie said, I’m sure it has something to do with mating.

However, I don’t think the difference in vocal pitch has a direct evolutionary purpose itself… more like a byproduct of other differences caused by evolution.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Actually, you don’t know it consciously, but men are also able to hear a difference in a woman’s voice when she is ovulating. In studies, men will most often rate an ovulating woman’s voice as “more attractive,” based on the sound of the voice alone.

Blueroses's avatar

hmmm @TheOnlyNeffie like pheromones? I find that fascinating because there are times when I can be an irresistible flirt and times I couldn’t get attention from an Amway salesperson. I never looked for a scientific explanation. Just thought my hair/makeup was rockin’ (or not)!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think pheromones work through the nose, actually. I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure. Apparently the pitch of our voice actually does go through a very slight change while we’re most fertile, and men subconsciously pick up on that.

However, along the same lines as pheromones… men can also detect changes in our scent along the same lines.

ETpro's avatar

@Blueroses Amazing. I was not aware of that. @TheOnlyNeffie Isn’t science fun. :-)

crisw's avatar


Check out this song for a great evolutionary explanation!

ETpro's avatar

@crisw Ha! Thank you so much for that link. That is hilarious!!!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@crisw Fantastic! So women really do hold the future of the world in their… ummm

Blueroses's avatar

@crisw I’m a bit in lurve w/ you now.

crisw's avatar

@Blueroses and all

Baba Brinkman is quite the guy- you can check out his other stuff at his website.

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