Deep-Voiced Attorneys Less Likely to Win in Court

A male lawyer's voice can actually predict whether he wins his case
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2015 4:00 AM CST
Deep-Voiced Attorneys Less Likely to Win in Court
In this Sept. 3, 2014 file photo, Supreme Court Justices Susan Owens, left, and Debra Stephens listen to Thomas Ahearne, attorney for the coalition that sued the state over education funding, during a hearing before the state Supreme Court, in Olympia, Wash.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

When it comes to leaders, men and women both prefer women who have more masculine voices, research shows. And men are more likely to vote for men who use deeper, more masculine tones, while CEOs with deeper voices tend to make more money and run larger companies. But when it comes to the courtroom, a masculine voice might actually get in the way, according to new research out of the University of Chicago and ETH Zurich in Switzerland. The study found that male attorneys with more masculine voices are less likely to win Supreme Court cases, Business Standard reports.

A team of linguists and legal theorists asked 200 volunteers to listen to 60 recordings of male attorneys making opening statements to the Supreme Court, and had them rate a range of characteristics, including intelligence, trustworthiness, confidence, and how masculine the speaker sounded. They were looking for bias, and learned that the only predictor to whether the attorney would win a case was if he sounded less masculine, in which case he was more likely to win, reports New Scientist. "The only way around it is to make people aware of the bias, and hope they are mindful of it when listening," one researcher who has studied voting bias says. (Steady-voiced men, meanwhile, appear to have more sexual partners.)

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