Theses Doctoral

Identifying Speaker State from Multimodal Cues

Yang, Zixiaofan

Automatic identification of speaker state is essential for spoken language understanding, with broad potential in various real-world applications. However, most existing work has focused on recognizing a limited set of emotional states using cues from a single modality. This thesis describes my research that addresses these limitations and challenges associated with speaker state identification by studying a wide range of speaker states, including emotion and sentiment, humor, and charisma, using features from speech, text, and visual modalities.

The first part of this thesis focuses on emotion and sentiment recognition in speech. Emotion and sentiment recognition is one of the most studied topics in speaker state identification and has gained increasing attention in speech research recently, with extensive emotional speech models and datasets published every year. However, most work focuses only on recognizing a set of discrete emotions in high-resource languages such as English, while in real-life conversations, emotion is changing continuously and exists in all spoken languages. To address the mismatch, we propose a deep neural network model to recognize continuous emotion by combining inputs from raw waveform signals and spectrograms. Experimental results on two datasets show that the proposed model achieves state-of-the-art results by exploiting both waveforms and spectrograms as input. Due to the higher number of existing textual sentiment models than speech models in low-resource languages, we also propose a method to bootstrap sentiment labels from text transcripts and use these labels to train a sentiment classifier in speech. Utilizing the speaker state information shared across modalities, we extend speech sentiment recognition from high-resource languages to low-resource languages. Moreover, using the natural verse-level alignment in the audio Bibles across different languages, we also explore cross-lingual and cross-modality sentiment transfer.

In the second part of the thesis, we focus on recognizing humor, whose expression is related to emotion and sentiment but has very different characteristics. Unlike emotion and sentiment that can be identified by crowdsourced annotators, humorous expressions are highly individualistic and cultural-specific, making it hard to obtain reliable labels. This results in the lack of data annotated for humor, and thus we propose two different methods to automatically and reliably label humor. First, we develop a framework for generating humor labels on videos, by learning from extensive user-generated comments. We collect and analyze 100 videos, building multimodal humor detection models using speech, text, and visual features, which achieves an F1-score of 0.76. In addition to humorous videos, we also develop another framework for generating humor labels on social media posts, by learning from user reactions to Facebook posts. We collect 785K posts with humor and non-humor scores and build models to detect humor with performance comparable to human labelers.

The third part of the thesis focuses on charisma, a commonly found but less studied speaker state with unique challenges -- the definition of charisma varies a lot among perceivers, and the perception of charisma also varies with speakers' and perceivers' different demographic backgrounds. To better understand charisma, we conduct the first gender-balanced study of charismatic speech, including speakers and raters from diverse backgrounds. We collect personality and demographic information from the rater as well as their own speech, and examine individual differences in the perception and production of charismatic speech. We also extend the work to politicians' speech by collecting speaker trait ratings on representative speech segments of politicians and study how the genre, gender, and the rater's political stance influence the charisma ratings of the segments.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Thesis Advisors
Hirschberg, Julia Bell
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 13, 2021