Reflections: That pitch-perfect date


You should be reading this right about the weekend immediately after Valentine’s Day. That being the case, it’s not an entirely unreasonable assumption that for some of you, that date with that special girl last Thursday was a first date.

Thing about first dates is one is never really sure from the date if she likes you or not, and for some it can be an angst-filled period of dubiety. Fortunately for you, you can stop wondering. And don’t bother with that flower petal plucking ‘she likes me, she likes me not’ guessing game, either.

According to a study conducted in the UK, when on a first date, listen closely to the sound of your date’s voice. What she’s saying won’t tell you much, but the pitch of her voice might reveal if she fancies you.

The study, in The Royal Society Proceedings B journal, suggests that if she lowers her pitch when she’s talking to you, it could be a subtle, subconscious sign she finds you attractive.

Pitch is the degree of highness or lowness of a tone. Let me paint you a picture of pitch when talking about a woman’s tone.

A high pitch is an up-high voice. Think Minnie Mouse. Or better yet, that girly-girl gang greeting, where, with arms raised, head back, eyes squeezed shut, 20-something women piercingly squeal “ohmygaaaawd” for all to hear how happy they are to see each other.

A low pitch is a low-down voice. We’re talking actress Rosamund Pike, she of ‘Gone Girl’, and Scarlett Johansson, especially in the movie ‘Her’, where you never get to see her but only hear the sound of her voice. This is the pitch you should listen out for, as in if she goes Rosamund Pike or Scarlett Johansson on you on a first date, you’re off to a good start.

The study itself involved researchers listening in on 30 speed-daters meeting at a café. Each date was six minutes, with the men rotating around the tables until they had dated (at speed) all the women in the room. Between each date, participants indicated whether or not they liked the person they’d just met and if they wanted to meet them again.

On listening back to the conversations, the researchers found that while men adopted a lower voice with all the women they met whether they liked them or not, the women in the study lowered their pitch only for the men they found attractive.

The findings were a surprise for lead researcher Dr Katarzyna Pisanski from the University of Sussex School of Psychology, as quite a few other studies have shown that men tend to favour a higher pitch in women because it’s feminine and youthful.

‘But perhaps,’ says Dr Pisanski, ‘things are changing and women are trying to portray other values. A lower pitch communicates competence, maturity or even dominance. Lower, quieter speech might also be more intimate.’

So there it is. On a first date, it’s not what she’s saying, it’s the pitch at which she is saying it that should tell you whether or not she’ll be seeing you again.

If I’ve got you trying hard to remember if she lowered her voice when you were on your date, my job here is done.