4aSC8. Prosody as a potential cue for age perception.

Session: Thursday Morning, May 16

Author: James V. Ralston
Author: George Fidas
Location: Dept. of Psych., Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY 14850
Author: Christin E. Agli
Author: Colleen Coppola
Location: Ithaca College, NY 14850


Previous research has shown that relatively localized acoustic information, such as voice pitch, f0 perturbation, and hoarseness are cues to age perception. The present studies examined the potential role of sentence-level prosodic information in the perception of age. Sixteen different six-word sentences were recorded from eight different males in each of three age groups (middle school students, college students, and senior citizens). Several acoustic measurements were made of each sentence, including mean frequency, slope of intonation contour across entire sentence, slope of terminal fall, and amount of inflection (i.e., absolute frequency change summed across the sentence). A second set of sentences was constructed by randomly reordering the words in each sentence. Original sentences and their scrambled counterparts were presented to 19 listeners who rated the age in years of the speaker of each sentence. Analyses of variance revealed that age judgments were less extreme for scrambled sentences as compared to the regular sentences, particularly for the college-aged and elder voices. These results suggest that the scrambling altered sentence-level vocal information. Preliminary regression analyses also indicate that perceived age is related to some relatively global acoustic measures, such as amount of inflection.

from ASA 131st Meeting, Indianapolis, May 1996