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Yanushevskaya I; Gobl C; Ní Chasaide A;
Frontiers in psychology
Voice quality in affect cueing: does loudness matter?
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In emotional speech research, it has been suggested that loudness, along with other prosodic features, may be an important cue in communicating high activation affects. In earlier studies, we found different voice quality stimuli to be consistently associated with certain affective states. In these stimuli, as in typical human productions, the different voice qualities entailed differences in loudness. To examine the extent to which the loudness differences among these voice qualities might influence the affective coloring they impart, two experiments were conducted with the synthesized stimuli, in which loudness was systematically manipulated. Experiment 1 used stimuli with distinct voice quality features including intrinsic loudness variations and stimuli where voice quality (modal voice) was kept constant, but loudness was modified to match the non-modal qualities. If loudness is the principal determinant in affect cueing for different voice qualities, there should be little or no difference in the responses to the two sets of stimuli. In Experiment 2, the stimuli included distinct voice quality features but all had equal loudness to test the hypothesis that equalizing the perceived loudness of different voice quality stimuli will have relatively little impact on affective ratings. The results suggest that loudness variation on its own is relatively ineffective whereas variation in voice quality is essential to the expression of affect. In Experiment 1, stimuli incorporating distinct voice quality features consistently obtained higher ratings than the modal voice stimuli with varied loudness. In Experiment 2, non-modal voice quality stimuli proved potent in affect cueing even with loudness differences equalized. Although loudness per se does not seem to be the major determinant of perceived affect, it can contribute positively to affect cueing: when combined with a tense or modal voice quality, increased loudness can enhance signaling of high activation states.
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