Can You Choose A Romantic Partner Just By Their Voice? A Dating App Thinks So

Mar 19, 2018
Originally published on March 19, 2018 10:57 am

Would you choose a romantic partner based just on their voice?

A new dating app lets you do just that. The app, Waving, is just like Tinder: You swipe right for someone you're into, and swipe left for someone you're not. But the app's profile doesn't host any photos of favorite hobbies or pets, or long bios that help you glean some insight into your potential date's lifestyle — just a short voice message.

"The first thing I thought when I heard about this app was, you know, it sounds like a bit of a gimmick," said Robert Burriss, an evolutionary psychologist who studies human attraction at the University of Basel in Switzerland. But, he added, there's a lot of research being done to show that voices are important when it comes to judging a partner.

So what exactly makes a voice right-swipe-worthy? Men with deeper voices are found more attractive by women, and women with higher-pitched voices tend to be more attractive to men, according to Burris.

The trend isn't an arbitrary preference: It has it roots in biology. A deeper voice in a man could mean a high level of testosterone, and a higher-pitched voice in a woman might signal high estrogen levels. In one study out of Tanzania, pregnant women preferred men with higher-pitched voices.

"This might be because women who are pregnant are sort of primed to want to affiliate with men who are more feminine, more friendly," said Burriss. "And these men tend to have a higher-pitched voice."

If you're sold on the idea and ready to create a profile, Burriss suggests you vary your tone — he says it's like smiling in a picture. When voices go up, they "sound more approachable, more extrovert," he said. "Whereas introverts will tend to sort of sink back into their voice, and their voice will be more monotonous."

If you're looking to date an extrovert, or host a radio show, monotony might not be so attractive. But despite his research interests and evolutionary psychological theorizing, Burriss thinks you might not want to delete those selfies just yet.

"Before that finger presses that button to say, yes, it's a match, they're probably going to want to see the face," said Burriss. "Do I really think people are going to go on lots of dates with people they meet on this app? I'm not so sure."

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Could you choose a romantic partner just based on their voice?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm a very sexy baby. I can't help it if men are attracted to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I have a sexy voice. Champagne, mountain range, hugs.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A new dating app called Waving lets you do just that. It's like Tinder. You know, swipe right for someone you're into. Swipe left for someone you're not. But no pictures. No long bios to help you decide - just a short recorded message.

ROBERT BURRISS: Well, the first thing I thought when I heard about this app was, you know, it sounds like a bit of a gimmick.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Robert Burriss, an evolutionary psychologist. He studies human attraction.

BURRISS: There's a lot of research being done to show that voices are really important when it comes to judging a partner.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We asked Burriss to give us the lowdown on what makes a voice hot or not.

BURRISS: We know that men with deeper voices are found more attractive by women. Women with higher-pitched voices tend to be more attractive to men. But it's not an arbitrary preference. It's based on biology.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He says a deeper voice in a man could mean a high level of testosterone. And for a woman, a higher-pitched voice might signal high estrogen levels. Burriss did have one caveat. In one study of hunter-gatherer populations in Tanzania, pregnant women preferred men with higher-pitched voices.

BURRISS: And this might be because women who are pregnant are sort of primed to want to affiliate with men who are more feminine, more friendly, perhaps. And these men tend to have a higher-pitched voice.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Convinced yet? If you're ready to sign up, Burriss offered this suggestion for your voice-dating profile - vary your tone. He says it's like smiling in a picture.

BURRISS: If they go up and down like this, then they will sound more approachable, more extrovert. Whereas introverts - they will tend to sort of sink back into their voice. And their voice will be more monotonous.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So if you're looking to date an extrovert or host a radio program, this might not be attractive. But despite all his research, Burriss says don't delete those selfies just yet.

BURRISS: Before that finger presses that button to say, yes, it's a match, they're probably going to want to see the face. Do I really think people are going to go on lots of dates with people they meet on this app? I'm not so sure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Robert Burriss, a postdoctoral researcher at Basel University in Switzerland.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU HAD ME FROM HELLO")

KENNY CHESNEY: (Singing) Well, you had me from hello. I felt love start to grow. The moment that I looked into your eyes, you won me. It was over from the start. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.