The sound of trustworthiness: acoustic-based modulation of perceived voice personality

Belin, P., Boehme, B. and McAleer, P. (2017) The sound of trustworthiness: acoustic-based modulation of perceived voice personality. PLoS ONE, 12(10), e0185651. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185651) (PMID:29023462) (PMCID:PMC5638233)

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When we hear a new voice we automatically form a "first impression" of the voice owner’s personality; a single word is sufficient to yield ratings highly consistent across listeners. Past studies have shown correlations between personality ratings and acoustical parameters of voice, suggesting a potential acoustical basis for voice personality impressions, but its nature and extent remain unclear. Here we used data-driven voice computational modelling to investigate the link between acoustics and perceived trustworthiness in the single word "hello". Two prototypical voice stimuli were generated based on the acoustical features of voices rated low or high in perceived trustworthiness, respectively, as well as a continuum of stimuli inter- and extrapolated between these two prototypes. Five hundred listeners provided trustworthiness ratings on the stimuli via an online interface. We observed an extremely tight relationship between trustworthiness ratings and position along the trustworthiness continuum (r = 0.99). Not only were trustworthiness ratings higher for the high- than the low-prototypes, but the difference could be modulated quasi-linearly by reducing or exaggerating the acoustical difference between the prototypes, resulting in a strong caricaturing effect. The f0 trajectory, or intonation, appeared a parameter of particular relevance: hellos rated high in trustworthiness were characterized by a high starting f0 then a marked decrease at mid-utterance to finish on a strong rise. These results demonstrate a strong acoustical basis for voice personality impressions, opening the door to multiple potential applications.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Supported by grants RES-060-25-0010 by ESRC/MRC (UK) and grant AJE201214 by the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (France) to P.B. We are grateful for the help provided by the Labex BLRI (ANR-11-LABX-0036 to P.B.), supported by the French National Agency for Research (ANR), under the program "Investissements d'Avenir" (ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McAleer, Dr Phil and Belin, Professor Pascal
Authors: Belin, P., Boehme, B., and McAleer, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Belin et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 12(10): e0185651
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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