Last updated July 12, 2018 at 10:27 am
Our voice pitch is determined before we speak.
When a baby cries it’s telling you more than that there’s a problem requiring your immediate attention.
According to French and British researchers, the pitch of that cry gives you a pretty good idea what your child is going to sound like later in life.
Their longitudinal study found that the pitch of a baby’s cry at four months of age predicts the pitch of their speech utterances at age five, “explaining 41 per cent of the inter-individual variance in voice pitch at that age in our sample”.
And things go back even further. The researchers also found that the right-hand ratio of the index to ring finger (a proposed index of prenatal testosterone levels) predicts voice pitch in both babies and children.
“These findings suggest that between-individual differences in voice pitch, which convey important biosocial information about speakers, may partly originate in utero,” they write in an paper published in Biology Letters.
Among the 15 children studied, there were no sex differences in the voice pitch of babies’ cries and children’s speech, corroborating studies showing that voice pitch is not sexually dimorphic before puberty.
Previous research has shown that in males, inter-individual differences in pitch are stable after puberty and may even be determined before puberty; pitch at age seven predicts up to 64 per cent of the variance in pitch in adulthood.