Christoph Schild, Julia Stern, and Ingo Zettler (2020)

Linking men‘s voice pitch to actual and perceived trustworthiness across domains

Behavioral Ecology, 31:164-175.

* Christoph Schild and Julia Stern share the first authorship.

Previous research suggests that judgments about a male speaker’s trustworthiness vary due to the speaker’s voice pitch (mean F0) and differ across domains. Mixed results in terms of the direction and extent of such effects have been reported, however. Moreover, no study so far has investigated whether men’s mean F0 is, indeed, a valid cue to their self-reported and behavioral trustworthiness, and whether trustworthiness judgments are accurate.We tested the relation between mean F0 and actual general, economic and mating-related trustworthiness in 181 men, as well as trustworthiness judgments of 95 perceivers across all three domains. Analyses show that men’s mean F0 is not related to Honesty-Humility (as a trait indicator of general trustworthiness), trustworthy intentions, or trust game behavior, suggesting no relation of mean F0 to general or economic trustworthiness. In contrast, results suggest that mean F0 might be related to mating-related trustworthiness (as indicated by self-reported relationship infidelity). However, lower mean F0 was judged as more trustworthy in economic, but less trustworthy in mating-related domains and rather weakly related to judgments of general trustworthiness.Trustworthiness judgments were not accurate for general or economic trustworthiness, but exploratory analyses suggest that women might be able to accurately judge men’s relationship infidelity based on their voice pitch. Next to these analyses, we report exploratory analyses involving and controlling for additional voice parameters.

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Preregistration, open data, open analysis script and open material can be found here: https://osf.io/khua4/