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."