Some women are known for their voices — you know who they are: these ladies can utter a sentence or two and have men and women melting at their seductive sibilance and gorgeous glottal stops. Why we find certain women's voices sexy has been somewhat of a mystery until now, but according to an upcoming study in Physiology & Behavior, it's biology that gets us so hot and bothered. The publication, titled "Physiological changes in response to hearing female voices recorded at high fertility" looks into how men and women rate the voices of women at different times in their cycle.
To start, scientists collected data from women about their menstrual cycles and method of birth control and then recorded their voices at their lowest and highest points of fertility. Participants were then asked to listen to these recordings and rate the women according to attractiveness while their heart rate and Galvanic skin response was measured throughout. Turns out, both men and women found the voices of fertile women more attractive than those of women who were in less fertile phases of their cycle — and their physiological responses followed suit. The electrical activity in the participants' skin increased when they listened to fertile female voices, and their heart rates also went up. Interestingly, there was no difference in the attractiveness rating of voices of women on birth control.
Apparently, the voice transmits a lot of biological and reproductive information that we aren't consciously aware of. Evolutionarily, it makes sense that men could sense fertile females through vocal cues, and women could detect their ovulating competition. This is of course complicated by important factors like contraception and sexual orientation, so it'd be interesting to see further studies with those variables at the forefront. However, does this study suggest that our favorite celebrity female voices are more fecund than others? Or perhaps these women were filming their iconic scenes at the perfect time of the month? It's impossible to say, but here are a few vocal icons that have managed to prick our ears over the years.
Since her iconic debut in To Have and To Have Not, and throughout her lifelong career as a fearless, outspoken activist, Lauren Bacall has always been known for her sleek, low vocals. They're a little husky mixed with a little honey, and they're immediately recognizable. Even as Bacall aged, her voice only got richer and more nuanced.
The original bombshell's breathless voice has been imitated but never matched. With her rounded syllables and sweet, dulcet tones, Marilyn Monroe set the tone for the coquettish wild thing who played on the "dumb blonde" archetype but never gave into it. Even her singing voice carries the same inimitable sound.
You may not know her name, but you know her voice. Lynne Thigpen played the narrator/DJ in The Warriors and has lent her strong, velvety syllables to a number of records and books on tape. She was also an award-winning actor, and for those of a certain age, you'll recognize Thigpen as "The Chief" on Carmen Sandiego.
Half-smoky sex pot, half-little girl, Jennifer Tilly's voice is unforgettable. The subtle, smoky trill that punctuates her mid-to-high range tones has made her the perfect choice for voice acting roles in Bride of Chucky and Family Guy. Tilly's voice is the perfect mix of ditzy, scary and sexy.
Kathleen Turner is of the Lauren Bacall school ± sultry and smoky. She sounds like she starts her day with a pack of Marlboro's and a shot of Jack Daniels, but still has a feminine edge to her tough timbre. In her older age, Turner's unforgettable voice has become more gravely and deep, and she's played it up to excellent affect on Californication and Dumb and Dumber To.
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