Prosodic Predictors of Upcoming Positive or Negative Content in Spoken Messages

Swerts, Marc; Hirschberg, Julia Bell

This article examines potential prosodic predictors of emotional speech in utterances perceived as conveying that good or bad news is about to be delivered. Speakers were asked to call an experimental confederate to inform her about whether or not she had been given a job she had applied for. A perception study was then performed in which initial fragments of the recorded utterances, not containing any explicit lexical cues to emotional content, were presented to listeners who had to rate whether good or bad news would follow the utterance. The utterances were then examined to discover acoustic and prosodic features that distinguished between good and bad news. It was found that speakers in the production study were not simply reflecting their own positive or negative mood during the experiment, but rather appeared to be influenced by the valence of the positive or negative message they were preparing to deliver. Positive and negative utterances appeared to be judged differently with respect to a number of perceived attributes of the speakers’ voices (like sounding hesitant or nervous). These attributes correlated with a number of automatically obtained acoustic features.


Also Published In

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

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Academic Units
Computer Science
Published Here
August 5, 2013