Voice quality and the perception of speakers’ social image

Rosario Signorello (LPP, CNRS/Sorbonne Nouvelle)
07 October 2016, 14h0015h00

Human speakers manipulate voice acoustic parameters to persuade the audience, achieve goals, arouse emotional states, and convey personality traits (Signorello, 2014). Distinct communication contexts (environmental acoustics, listeners’ biological and social traits) in which the vocal communication (or interaction) takes place influence speakers’ ways to manipulate voice. The voice qualities resulting from the manipulation convey specific type and traits of the speakers’ social image : dominance and biological fitness (Ohala, 1984, 1996), size (Pisanski et al., 2014), physical strength (Sell et al., 2010), age and race (Kreiman and Sidtis, 2011), attractiveness (Klofstad et al., 2015 ; Anderson and Klofstad, 2012), personality traits and affective states (Banse and Scherer, 1996 ; Bänziger and Scherer, 2005 ; Grandjean et al., 2006), and leadership and charisma status (Klofstad et al., 2015 ; Anderson and Klofstad, 2012 ; Signorello, 2014).

This talk will feature several studies that I conducted to investigate voice quality and how it conveys speakers’ social image. The matter was studied comparing distinct genders, languages, and communication contexts. The broad intent of this research was twofold : (a) to discern voice acoustics parameters related to speakers’ evolved vocal behavioral abilities from the ones resulting from linguistically-filtered strategies (used to adapting one’s voice quality to cultural-related expectations) ; (b) to investigate the perceptual salience of voice quality acoustic patterns in triggering specific social behaviors in listeners.

Références :

  • Anderson, R. C. and Klofstad, C. A. (2012). Preference for leaders with masculine voices holds in the case of feminine leadership roles. PLoS ONE, 7(12):e51216.
  • Banse, R. and Scherer, K. (1996). Acoustic profiles in vocal emotion expression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3):614–36.
  • Bänziger, T. and Scherer, K. R. (2005). The role of intonation in emotional expressions. Speech Communication, 46:252–267.
  • Grandjean, D., Bänziger, T., and Scherer, K. R. (2006). Intonation as an interface between language and affect. Progress in Brain Research, 156:235–268.
  • Klofstad, C. A., Anderson, R. C., and Nowicki, S. (2015). Perceptions of Competence, Strength, and Age Influence Voters to Select Leaders with Lower-Pitched Voices. PLoS ONE, 10(8):e0133779.
  • Kreiman, J. and Sidtis, D. (2011). Foundations of Voice Studies : An Interdisci- plinary Approach to Voice Production and Perception. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.
  • Ohala, J. J. (1984). An ethological perspective on common cross-language utilization of F0 of voice. Phonetica, 41(1):1–16.
  • Ohala, J. J. (1996). Ethological theory and the expression of emotion in the voice. In Pro- ceedings of the 4th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 96), volume 3, pages 1812–1815, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
  • Pisanski, K., Fraccaro, P. J., Tigue, C. C., O’Connor, J. J. M., Röder, S., Andrews, P. W., Fink, B., DeBruine, L. M., Jones, B. C., and Feinberg, D. R. (2014). Vocal indicators of body size in men and women : a meta-analysis. Animal Behaviour, 95(0):89–99.
  • Sell, A., Bryant, G. A., Cosmides, L., Tooby, J., Sznycer, D., von Rueden, C., Krauss, A., and Gurven, M. (2010). Adaptations in humans for assessing physical strength from the voice. Proceedings of the Royal Society B : Biological Sciences.
  • Signorello, R. (2014). La Voix Charismatique : Aspects Psychologiques et Caractéristiques Acoustiques. Ph.D. Thesis in Linguistics and Psychology, Université de Grenoble, France and Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy.

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