September 28, 2004

Sex, lies, and psychology studies.

The NYT reports on a study by Gordon G. Gallup Jr., a psychologist at the State University of New York at Albany:
When researchers asked volunteers to listen to recordings of people counting to 10 and rate the attractiveness of the voices, they found that the voices rated highest belonged to people having more active sex lives. Moreover, their physical characteristics (broad shoulders and narrow hips in men, narrow waist and broad hips in women, and symmetry in both) conformed to conventional notions of attractiveness.
The article doesn't detail the results enough to overcome my skepticism about the accuracy of this finding. I do note that it says "the voices rated highest belonged to people having more active sex lives," not the most active sex lives, so I suspect that we might find that some of those with the most active sex lives did not necessarily have highly rated voices. We're just not seeing the overall correlation between good and bad voices and active and inactive sex lives. And we can't tell if good voices are attracting more sexual partners, or if (as the article suggests) the human voice conveys information about a person's sex life. But more importantly, we need to account for lying. Maybe the voices of liars are rated more highly, and of course, a subject people are quite likely to lie about is their sex life.

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