Next time a woman drops a few octaves as she says hello, don’t be alarmed – it may just be she fancies you.
Husky voices signal ‘sexual interest’ and can help women stand out from the crowd, say researchers.
Perhaps less surprisingly, the study found men also drop their pitch when they meet women they are attracted to.
However, the finding that women subconsciously do this only applied when chatting to men for whom there was a lot of competition.
If a man was considered worth dating but was not fancied by more than 50 per cent of other women, they would use a higher-pitched, more ‘feminised’ speech style, researchers found.
Lead author Katarzyna Pisanski, of Sussex University, said: ‘Although women spoke with a higher and more variable voice pitch toward men they selected as potential mates, women lowered voice pitch toward men who were most desired by other women and who they also personally preferred.’
She said the apparent contradiction could be resolved because ‘a relatively high voice pitch in women can signal youth, femininity and reproductive fecundity’.
A lower pitch, on the other hand, could signal ‘sexual interest and intimacy’, and may also be used to show ‘competence, trustworthiness and leadership’.
The research also appeared to confirm that women are ‘the choosier sex’, the authors said.
Women showed a preference for only one third of their dates, while men were interested in half of women they met.
The study, which is published in the Royal Society Journal, was based on a speed-dating event with 30 adult men and women.