What is Democracy? (58): A Voice Based Selection Process for Politicians

It’s both a damning verdict on democracy and a charming play on words: voters apparently use their vote to choose politicians with a certain type of voice (the word “vote” being related to “voice”). More precisely, voters prefer politicians with lower-pitched voices:

Participants in the study, published in the journal of Evolution and Human Behavior, were asked to listen to archival voice recordings of nine U.S. presidents. The researchers, from Canada’s McMaster University, created higher- and lower-pitched versions of each voice. Listeners were then asked to assess the attractiveness, honesty, leadership potential and intelligence — among other qualities — of the speakers.

For nearly every attribute they were asked to rate, participants were significantly more likely to prefer the deeper voice. The only category in which higher voices won? Most Likely to Be Involved in a Government Scandal. …

Previous studies have found that both men and women find men with deeper voices more attractive and more dominant. And in eight U.S. presidential elections between 1960 and 2000, the candidate with the deeper voice has won the popular vote. (source)

Politicians’ looks create a similar distortion of proper democratic processes. Hence I guess the answer to the questions I asked here and here should be “yes” after all.

More posts in this series are here.


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