Can a candidate ride a throbbing bass voice to electoral victory? According to a new study from Duke University and the University of Miami, humans — in the absence of candidates' appearances, parties, and policy positions — prefer their politicians with lower voices. The sample for this study came from a pool of Miami undergraduates and volunteers at Duke. Explain the researchers in a recent paper in The Proceedings of The Royal Society B:
[...] We recorded men and women saying ‘I urge you to vote for me this November'. Each recording was manipulated digitally to yield a higher- and lower-pitched version of the original. We then asked men and women to vote for either the lower- or higher-pitched version of each voice. Our results show that both men and women select male and female leaders with lower voices. These findings suggest that men and women with lower-pitched voices may be more successful in obtaining positions of leadership.
So that's why Christian Bale was gargling gravel instead of huffing mylar balloons on the set of The Dark Knight. Duke University biologist Rindy Anderson further elaborates:
We often make snap judgments about candidates without full knowledge of their policies or positions. These findings might help explain why [...] It's clear that our voices carry more information than the words we speak. Knowing this can help us understand the factors that influence our social interactions and possibly why there are fewer women elected to high-level political positions.
There are a slew of caveats here. The researchers do acknowledge that this carefully limited study is not supposed to supplant political reality. And as with prior low voice studies, it's also murky what biological mechanisms make deeper voices appealing in the first place. Finally, Mr. White's candidacy for global dictator-for-life is not a real option, given that his ghost was accused of murder last month. That's one hell of a campaign liability.
Hat tip to Ghost in the Machine.