Washington, July 17 : When it comes to determining whether a person is sexy or not, most people rely upon their sight. Now, according to a new study, a person's voice is more than enough to pass a judgment on their attractiveness.
The study, led by Susan Hughes, an evolutionary psychologist from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, suggests that people with voices deemed sexy and attractive tend to have greater body symmetry upon close inspection.
"The sound of a person's voice reveals a considerable amount of biological information," LiveScience quoted Hughes, as saying.
"It can reflect the mate value of a person," she added.
The study cautions that an attractive voice does not necessarily indicate that this person has an attractive face.
A symmetric body is genetically sound, scientists say, and in evolutionary terms, in the wild, it can be an important factor when selecting a mate.
However, sometimes changes during prenatal development can slightly skew this balance.
For instance, the length ratio between index and ring fingers, known as the digit ratio, is fixed by the first trimester, a time that corresponds with vocal cord and larynx development.
If the hormone surge that affects vocal development also affects finger growth, there should be a connection between an individual's voice and digit ratio.
Hughes could not demonstrate a connection between voice attractiveness and digit ratio in her previous work, possibly due to vocal changes that occur during puberty.
So in the new study, about 100 individuals listened to previously recorded voices and independently rated them on nine traits important during mate selection: approachability, dominance, healthiness, honesty, intelligence, likelihood to get dates, maturity, sexiness and warmth.
Study participants generally agreed on what made a voice attractive. But when Hughes used a spectrogram to analyze these voice ratings according to different acoustic properties such as pitch, intensity, jitter and shimmer, she could not find a common feature that made these voices seem attractive.
This indicates our perceptual system may be more advanced than expected, Hughes said.
The study is published in the June 2008 edition of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.