2pSC10. Vocal expression of emotion is associated with spectral properties of speech.

Session: Tuesday Afternoon, May 14

Time: 3:30

Author: Jo-Anne Bachorowski
Location: Dept. of Psych., Wilson Hall, Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN 37240
Author: Michael J. Owren
Location: Reed College, Portland, OR 97202


Most empirical work in vocal expression of emotion has emphasized prosodic components of speech produced by actors. In the present study, spectral properties of speech samples that were produced during naturally occurring emotional states were examined. Twenty subjects viewed 24 slides selected from the International Affective Picture System. Elicited emotional responses ranged from strongly negative to strongly positive. During the presentation of each slide, subjects provided a free-form description of the feelings and thoughts evoked by the picture, preceded by the stock phrase ``This test picture....'' Subjects concluded each narrative with the prompt ``Next test picture.'' Analyses of the spectral properties of individual phonemes, drawn from the second stock phrase, showed statistically significant interaction effects involving slide valence and subject emotional intensity. Representations in the frequency space formed by F1 and F2, as well as the space formed by F0 and F2, were related to both current emotional state and to the intensity with which subjects typically experience emotional responses. The obtained effects were of sufficient magnitude to be perceptible, and indicate that an emotion experienced during vowel production can affect the same acoustic cues widely held to be used in a listener's phonemic processing. [Work supported by NIMH.]

from ASA 131st Meeting, Indianapolis, May 1996