Women’s preference for male faces and voices: is there an effect of 2D:4D?
Item statusRestricted Access
Sexually dimorphic traits are well accepted as influencing our preference for a particular partner and one such trait is the second to fourth digit ratio. As a consequence of its relation to testosterone, it is generally found that men have a lower 2D:4D than women, and as a further consequence a lower ratio is thought to be positively correlated with defeminisation in women. It is through such mechanisms that 2D:4D is thought to play a part in models of sexual selection. Scarbrough and Johnston have suggested that this masculinisation and feminisation of the brain leads to different mating strategies and those with a lower 2D:4D were found to prefer more masculine features for both short-term and long-term relationships, whereas those with higher 2D:4Ds were found to prefer more masculine faces for short-term relationships but more feminine faces for long-term relationships. Such masculine and feminine features are markers of testosterone levels (Scheib et al, 1999) and another known marker of testosterone levels is voice pitch (Collins, 2000), with a lower pitch correlating with higher levels of testosterone. Saxton et al (2006) found in their study females rated lower pitched voices as more attractive and the current study proposes a relationship between 2D:4D and a preference for more masculine or feminine voices. This study attempted to replicate the findings of Scarbrough and Johnston and it was hypothesised that those with a low 2D:4D would prefer more masculine faces for both types of relationship and those with a higher 2D:4D would prefer more masculine for short-term and more feminine for long-term relationships. The present study aimed to extend such hypotheses to voices and it was hypothesised that low 2D:4Ds would prefer lower pitched voices for both types of relationship and high 2D:4Ds would select low pitched voices for short-term relationships but higher pitched voices for long-term relationships. Sixteen men were pre-judged into an order of masculinity and fifty-eight women selected which faces and voices they preferred, first of all for a short-term relationship, then a long-term relationship. The results failed to concur with those of Scarbrough and Johnston and Saxton et al. The sexual selection theory of 2D:4D failed to be applied to more masculine or more feminine voices. Many explanations, including methodological issues are put forward to explain the present findings and suggestions for future research are made, in order to further investigate this research questions.