Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 11:22 UK

Darth Vader voices 'scare girls'

Darth Vader (L) and Barry White (R)
Young girls are intimidated by deep voices such as Darth Vader

Young girls are intimidated by deep voices such as Darth Vader but get to love them as they get older, new research has found.

The St Andrews University study found the fear soon changes to curiosity at puberty, when they are drawn to deep tones such as soul singer Barry White.

Psychologists found teenager girls had strong preferences for boys who sounded most like the so-called Walrus of Love.

The effect was most pronounced on the "most developed" girls.

The study of more than 300 young girls, aged 11 to 15.

One young girl told scientists she associated the deeper voices with film villains such as Darth Vader.

Voices deepen

The study also found adolescent boys preferred more masculine faces in other boys.

The results are based on tests carried out using digital techniques to manipulate faces and voices.

Tamsin Saxton, lead researcher, said: "People start trying out adult relationships during their teenage years, and during this time we see changes in perceptions of what's most attractive. It's then that you're learning about what's attractive in a partner.

"It's also a time when your peers are changing a lot in their appearance, for example, boys' faces become more masculine, and their voices deepen in pitch, so maybe teens are responding to the changes they see around them."

The paper 'Face and voice attractiveness judgments change during adolescence' by Tamsin Saxton, Lisa DeBruine, Benedict Jones, Anthony Little and Craig Roberts will be published shortly in the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

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