Many nationalities recognise that there is a tone of voice that is instantly alluring, but do some speakers have an unfair advantage?

The French call it “voix de chambre à coucher”. It’s a deep, sultry “bedroom voice” that gives some speakers their powers of seduction. It’s perfectly explainable too. Some people have objectively more attractive voices than others, and the fact that these rules are nearly universal reveals an important part of our evolutionary history.

Accents are one way we make assessments of other people. Speakers with attractive voices are thought of as competent, kind and trustworthy. This in turn produces a “halo effect” – where we see good people as more attractive. So, what makes some accents attractive?

There is a vocal trait that seems to work for everyone, no matter where they are from. “Whatever the culture, any woman coming from Japan or from the United States or from France or from anywhere in the world – they tend to prefer men with deep voices,” says Melissa Barkat-Defradas, a linguistics researcher at the University of Montpellier.

The sexual preference for men with deep voices has been recorded in indigenous peoples from the Amazon to Tanzania and countless other Western and non-Western examples. People associate deep voices with hunting abilities, career success and strength. We rate politicians with deeper voices as more serious and electable, regardless of sex. Male and female job candidates with lower-pitch voices are also more likely to be hired. If you want to get by as a competent speaker, it pays to go down an octave or two.

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