Article | Evolution and Human Behavior | July 2013

Voice Pitch and the Labor Market Success of Male Chief Executive Officers

by Christopher Parsons, W. Mayew and M. Venkatachalam

Abstract

A deep voice is evolutionarily advantageous for males, but does it confer benefit in competition for leadership positions? We study ecologically valid speech from 792 male public-company Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and find that CEOs with deeper voices manage larger companies, and as a result, make more money. After including proxies for other CEO attributes including experience, education and formant position, we document economically significant voice pitch effects. For the median CEO of the median sample firm, an interquartile decrease in voice pitch (22.1 Hz) is associated with a $440 million increase in the size of the firm managed, and in turn, $187 thousand more in annual compensation. Deep voiced CEOs also enjoy longer tenures. Although this is a study of association, the results are consistent with recent experimental predictions suggesting a role for voice pitch in leadership selection and also suggest economically meaningful effects of voice pitch reach the upper echelons of corporate management.

Keywords: Success; Leadership Style; Personal Characteristics; Management Teams;

Citation:

Parsons, Christopher, W. Mayew, and M. Venkatachalam. "Voice Pitch and the Labor Market Success of Male Chief Executive Officers." Evolution and Human Behavior 34, no. 4 (July 2013): 243–248.