It's easy for women to sound sexy, but men just don't have what it takes, a new study says.
When they want to sound sexy or attractive, women lower their pitch and boost their hoarseness. Men aren't able to do the same thing, according to the study researchers.
"This ability may be due to culture and cuts across cultures and time," said Susan Hughes, an associate professor of psychology at Albright College, in Reading, Penn., and one of the study's researchers. "There is a stereotype of what is a sexual voice in our culture -- a low, breathy voice."
Her study, published recently in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, included 20 women and 20 men who tried to make their voices sound sexy. Another 40 people judged whether they achieved that goal and found that the women easily outperformed the men.
"In fact, although not significantly, it got a bit worse when men tried to sound sexy," Hughes said.
This difference may be due to the way that people select mates. Women know that attractiveness is important to men and that an attractive voice is often linked to physical appeal, the researchers said.
The team also found that both sexes can alter their voice to sound more intelligent. Women, however, could not change their voice to sound more confident. Men could do this, but only when being judged by women.
Women and men were equally effective at changing their voice to sound more dominant. This ability may help women as they take traditionally male-dominated roles in business and politics.
The researchers said their findings could prove useful in voice coaching, including areas such as acting and public speaking.