1pSC26 – Acoustics and Perception of Charisma in Bilingual English-Spanish – Rosario Signorello

Acoustics and Perception of Charisma in Bilingual English-Spanish

2016 United States Presidential Election Candidates

 

Rosario Signorello – rsignorello@ucla.edu

Department of Head and Neck Surgery
31-20 Rehab Center,
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1794

Phone: +1 (323) 703-9549

 

Popular version of paper 1pSC26 “Acoustics and Perception of Charisma in Bilingual English-Spanish 2016 United States Presidential Election Candidates”

 

Presented at the 171st Meeting on Monday May 23, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Salon F, Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek Hotel, Salt Lake City, Utah,

Charisma is the set of leadership characteristics, such as vision, emotions, and dominance used by leaders to share beliefs, persuade listeners and achieve goals. Politicians use voice to convey charisma and appeal to voters to gain social positions of power. “Charismatic voice” refers to the ensemble of vocal acoustic patterns used by speakers to convey personality traits and arouse specific emotional states in listeners. The ability to manipulate charismatic voice results from speakers’ universal and learned strategies to use specific vocal parameters (such as vocal pitch, loudness, phonation types, pauses, pitch contours, etc.) to convey their biological features and their social image (see Ohala, 1994; Signorello, 2014a, 2014b; Puts et al., 2006). Listeners’ perception of the physical, psychological and social characteristics of the leader is influenced by universal ways to emotionally respond to vocalizations (see Ohala, 1994; Signorello, 2014a, 2014b) combined with specific, culturally-mediated, habits to manifest emotional response in public (Matsumoto, 1990; Signorello, 2014a).

Politicians manipulate vocal acoustic patterns (adapting them to the culture, language, social status, educational background and the gender of the voters) to convey specific types of leadership fulfilling everyone’s expectation of what charisma is. But what happen to leaders’ voice when they use different languages to address voters? This study investigates speeches of bilingual politicians to find out the vocal acoustic differences of leaders speaking in different languages. It also investigates how the acoustical differences in different languages can influence listeners’ perception of type of leadership and the emotional state aroused by leaders’ voices.

We selected vocal samples from two bilingual America-English/American-Spanish politicians that participated to the 2016 United States presidential primaries: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. We chose words with similar vocal characteristics in terms of average vocal pitch, vocal pitch range, and loudness range. We asked listeners to rate the type of charismatic leadership perceived and to assess the emotional states aroused by those voices. We finally asked participants how the different vocal patterns would affect their voting preference.

Preliminary statistical analyses show that English words like “terrorism” (voice sample 1) and “security” (voice sample 2), characterized by mid vocal pitch frequencies, wide vocal pitch ranges, and wide loudness ranges, convey an intimidating, arrogant, selfish, aggressive, witty, overbearing, lazy, dishonest, and dull type of charismatic leadership. Listeners from different language and cultural backgrounds also reported these vocal stimuli triggered emotional states like contempt, annoyance, discomfort, irritation, anxiety, anger, boredom, disappointment, and disgust. The listeners who were interviewed considered themselves politically liberal and they responded that they would probably vote for a politician with the vocal characteristics listed above.

Speaker Jeb Bush. Mid vocal pitch frequencies (126 Hz), wide vocal pitch ranges (97 Hz), and wide loudness ranges (35 dB)

Speaker Marco Rubio. Mid vocal pitch frequencies 178 Hz), wide vocal pitch ranges (127 Hz), and wide loudness ranges (30 dB)

Results also show that Spanish words like “terrorismo” (voice sample 3) and “ilegal” (voice sample 4) characterized by an average of mid-low vocal pitch frequencies, mid vocal pitch ranges, and narrow loudness ranges convey a personable, relatable, kind, caring, humble, enthusiastic, witty, stubborn, extroverted, understanding, but also weak and insecure type of charismatic. Listeners from different language and cultural backgrounds also reported these vocal stimuli triggered emotional states like happiness, amusement, relief, and enjoyment. The listeners who were interviewed considered themselves politically liberal and they responded that they would probably vote for a politician with the vocal characteristics listed above.  

Speaker Jeb Bush. Mid-low vocal pitch frequencies (95 Hz), mid vocal pitch ranges (40 Hz), and narrow loudness ranges (17 dB)

 

Speaker Marco Rubio. Mid vocal pitch frequencies 146 Hz), wide vocal pitch ranges (75 Hz), and wide loudness ranges (25 dB)

 

Voice is a very dynamic non-verbal behavior used by politicians to persuade the audience and manipulate voting preference. The results of this study show how acoustic differences in voice convey different types of leadership and arouse differently the emotional states of the listeners. The voice samples studied show how speakers Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio adapt their vocal delivery to audiences of different backgrounds. The two politicians voluntary manipulate their voice parameters while speaking in order to appear as they were endowed of different leadership qualities. The vocal pattern used in English conveys the threatening and dark side of their charisma, inducing the arousal of negative emotions, which triggers a positive voting preference in listeners. The vocal pattern used in English conveys the charming and caring side of their charisma, inducing the arousal of positive emotions, which triggers a negative voting preference in listeners.

The manipulation of voice arouses emotional states that will induce voters to consider a certain type of leadership as more appealing. Experiencing emotions help voters to assess the effectiveness of a political leader. If the emotional arousing matches with voters’ expectation of how a charismatic leader should make them feel then voters would help the charismatic speaker to became their leader.

 

References

Signorello, R. (2014a). Rosario Signorello (2014). La Voix Charismatique : Aspects Psychologiques et Caractéristiques Acoustiques. PhD Thesis. Université de Grenoble, Grenoble, France and Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Rome, Italy.

Signorello, R. (2014b). The biological function of fundamental frequency in leaders’ charismatic voices. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 136 (4), 2295-2295.

Ohala, J. (1984). An ethological perspective on common cross-language utilization of F0 of voice. Phonetica, 41(1):1–16.

Puts, D. A., Hodges, C. R., Cárdenas, R. A. et Gaulin, S. J. C. (2007). Men’s voices as dominance signals : vocal fundamental and formant frequencies influence dominance attributions among men. Evolution and Human Behavior, 28(5):340–344.

 

2aMU4 – Yelling vs. Screaming in Operatic and Rock Singing – Lisa Popeil

2aMU4 – Yelling vs. Screaming in Operatic and Rock Singing – Lisa Popeil

  • Yelling vs. Screaming in Operatic and Rock Singing

    Lisa Popeil – lisa@popeil.com

    Voiceworks®
    14431 Ventura Blvd #200
    Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

     

    Popular version of paper 2aMU4

    Presented Tuesday morning, May 24, 2016

     

    There exist a number of ways the human vocal folds can vibrate which create unique sounds used in singing.  The two most common vibrational patterns of the vocal folds are commonly called “chest voice” and “head voice”, with chest voice sounding like speaking or yelling and head voice sounding more flute-like or like screaming on high pitches.  In the operatic singing tradition, men sing primarily in chest voice while women sing primarily in their head voice.  However, in rock singing, men often emit high screams using their head voice while female rock singers use almost exclusively their chest voice for high notes.

    Vocal fold vibrational pattern differences are only a part of the story though, since the shaping of the throat, mouth and nose (the vocal tract) play a large part in the perception of the final sound.  That means that head voice can be made to “sound” like chest voice on high screams using vocal tract shaping and only the most experienced listener can determine if the vocal register used was chest or head voice.

    Using spectrographic analysis, differences and similarities between operatic and rock singers can be seen.  One similarity between the two is the heightened output of a resonance commonly called “ring”.  This resonance, when amplified by vocal tract shaping, creates a piercing sound that’s perceived by the listener as extremely loud. The amplified ring harmonics can be seen in the 3,000 Hz band in both the male opera sample and in rock singing samples:

     

     

  • MALE OPERA – HIGH B (B4…494 Hz)       CHEST VOICE
    Popeil1

    Figure 1 

     

  • MALE ROCK – HIGH E (E5…659 Hz)       CHEST VOICE
    Popeil 2

       Figure 2                                                                 

     

  • MALE ROCK – HIGH G (G5…784 Hz)    HEAD VOICE
    Popeil 3

    Figure 3

     

     

     

    Though each of these three male singers exhibit a unique frequency signature and whether singing in chest or head voice, each singer is using the amplified ring strategy in the 3,000Hz range amplify their sound and create excitement.

     

2aMU5 – Do people find vocal fry in popular music expressive? – Mackenzie Parrott

Do people find vocal fry in popular music expressive?

 

Mackenzie Parrott – mackenzie.lanae@gmail.com

 

John Nix – john.nix@utsa.edu

 

Popular version of paper 2aMU5, “Listener Ratings of Singer Expressivity in Musical Performance.”

 

Presented Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 10:20-10:35 am, Salon B/C, ASA meeting, Salt Lake City

Vocal fry is the lowest register of the human voice.  Its distinct sound is characterized by a low rumble interspersed with uneven popping and crackling.  The use of fry as a vocal mannerism is becoming increasingly common in American speech, fueling discussion about the implications of its use and how listeners perceive the speaker [1].  Previous studies have suggested that listeners find vocal fry to be generally unpleasant in women’s speech, but associate it with positive characteristics in men’s speech [2].

As it has become more prevalent, fry has perhaps not surprisingly found its place in many commercial song styles as well.  Many singers are implementing fry as a stylistic device at the onset or offset of a sung tone.  This can be found very readily in popular musical styles, presumably to impact and amplify the emotion that the performer is attempting to convey.

Researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio conducted a survey to analyze whether listeners’ ratings of a singer’s expressivity in musical samples in two contemporary commercial styles (pop and country) were affected by the presence of vocal fry, and to see if there was a difference in listener ratings according to the singer’s gender.  A male and a female singer recorded musical samples for the study in a noise reduction booth.  As can be seen in the table below, the singers were asked to sing most of the musical selections twice, once using vocal fry at phrase onsets, and once without fry, while maintaining the same vocal quality, tempo, dynamics, and stylization.  Some samples were presented more than one time in the survey portion of the study to test listener reliability.

 

Song Singer Gender Vocal Mode
(Hit Me) Baby One More Time Female Fry Only
If I Die Young Female With and Without Fry
National Anthem Female With and Without Fry
Thinking Out Loud Male Without Fry Only
Amarillo By Morning Male With and Without Fry
National Anthem Male With and Without Fry

 

Across all listener ratings of all the songs, the recordings which included vocal fry were rated as being only slightly more expressive than the recordings which contained no vocal fry.  When comparing the use of fry between the male and female singer, there were some differences between the genders.  The listeners rated the samples where the female singer used vocal fry higher (e.g., more expressive) than those without fry, which was surprising considering the negative association with women using vocal fry in speech.  Conversely, the listeners rated the male samples without fry as being more expressive than those with fry. Part of this preference pattern may have also been an indication of the singer; the male singer was much more experienced with pop styles than the female singer, who is primarily classically trained.  The overall expressivity ratings for the male singer were higher than those of the female singer by a statistically significant margin.

There were also listener rating trends between the differing age groups of participants.  Younger listeners drove the gap of preference between the female singer’s performances with fry versus non-fry and the male singer’s performances without fry versus with fry further apart.  Presumably they are more tuned into stylistic norms of current pop singers.  However, this could also imply a gender bias in younger listeners.  The older listener groups rated the mean expressivity of the performers as being lower than the younger listener groups.  Since most of the songs that we sampled are fairly recent in production, this may indicate a generational trend in preference.  Perhaps listeners rate the style of vocal production that is most similar to what they listened to during their young adult years as the most expressive style of singing. These findings have raised many questions for further studies about vocal fry in pop and country music.

 

 

  1. Anderson, R.C., Klofstad, C.A., Mayew, W.J., Venkatachalam, M. “Vocal Fry May Undermine the Success of Young Women in the Labor Market. “ PLoS ONE, 2014. 9(5): e97506. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097506.

 

  1. Yuasa, I. P. “Creaky Voice: A New Feminine Voice Quality for Young Urban-Oriented Upwardly Mobile American Women.” American Speech, 2010. 85(3): 315-337.

 

 

1aPP44 – What’s That Noise?  The Effect of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus on Soldiers Using Military Headsets – Candice Manning, AuD, PhD

1aPP44 – What’s That Noise? The Effect of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus on Soldiers Using Military Headsets – Candice Manning, AuD, PhD

What’s That Noise?  The Effect of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus on Soldiers Using Military Headsets

Candice Manning, AuD, PhD – Candice.Manning@va.gov

Timothy Mermagen, BS – timothy.j.mermagen.civ@mail.mil

Angelique Scharine, PhD – angelique.s.scharine.civ@mail.mil

Human and Intelligent Agent Integration Branch (HIAI)
Human Research and Engineering Directorate
U.S. Army Research Laboratory
Building 520
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD

Lay language paper 1aPP44, “Speech recognition performance of listeners with normal hearing, sensorineural hearing loss, and sensorineural hearing loss and bothersome tinnitus when using air and bone conduction communication headsets”

Presented Monday Morning, May 23, 2016, 8:00 – 12:00, Salon E/F

171st ASA Meeting, Salt Lake City

Military personnel are at high risk for noise-induced hearing loss due to the unprecedented proportion of blast-related acoustic trauma experienced during deployment from high-level impulsive and continuous noise (i.e., transportation vehicles, weaponry, blast-exposure).  In fact, noise-induced hearing loss is the primary injury of United States Soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.  Ear injuries, including tympanic membrane perforation, hearing loss, and tinnitus, greatly affect a Soldier’s hearing acuity and, as a result, reduce situational awareness and readiness.  Hearing protection devices are accessible to military personnel; however, it has been noted that many troops forego the use of protection believing it may decrease circumstantial responsiveness during combat.

Noise-induced hearing loss is highly associated with tinnitus, the experience of perceiving sound that is not produced by a source outside of the body.  Chronic tinnitus causes functional impairment that may result in a tinnitus sufferer to seek help from an audiologist or other healthcare professional.  Intervention and management are the only options for those individuals suffering from chronic tinnitus as there is no cure for this condition.  Tinnitus affects every aspect of an individual’s life including sleep, daily tasks, relaxation, and conversation to name only a few.  In 2011, the United States Government Accountability Office report on noise indicated that tinnitus was the most prevalent service-connected disability.  The combination of noise-induced hearing loss and the perception of tinnitus could greatly impact a Soldier’s ability to rapidly and accurately process speech information under high-stress situations.

The prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus within the military population suggests that Soldier use of hearing protection is extremely important. The addition of hearing protection into reliable communication devices will increase the probability of use among Soldiers.  Military communication devices using air and bone-conduction provide clear two-way audio communications through a headset and a microphone.

Air conduction headsets offer passive hearing protection from high ambient noise, and talk-through microphones allow the user to engage in face-to-face conversation and hear ambient environmental sounds, preserving situation awareness.  Bone-conduction technology utilizes the bone-conduction pathway and presents auditory information differently than air-conduction devices (see Figure 1).  Because headsets with bone conduction transducers do not cover the ears, they allow the user to hear the surrounding environment and the option to communicate over a radio network.  Worn with or without hearing protection, bone conduction devices are inconspicuous and fit easily under the helmet.   Bone conduction communication devices have been used in the past; however, as newer devices have been designed, they have not been widely adopted for military applications.

a)

Manning1a

 

 

b)

 

Manning1b

Figure 1. Air and Bone conduction headsets used during study: a) Invisio X5 dual in-ear headset and X50 control unit and b) Aftershockz Sports 2 headset.

 

Since many military personnel operate in high noise environments and with some degree of noise induced hearing damage and/or tinnitus, it is important to understand how speech recognition performance might be altered as a function of headset use.  This is an important subject to evaluate as there are two auditory pathways (i.e., air-conduction pathway and bone-conduction pathway) that are responsible for hearing perception.  Comparing the differences between the air and bone-conduction devices on different hearing populations will help to describe the overall effects of not only hearing loss, an extremely common disability within the military population, but the effect of tinnitus on situational awareness as well.  Additionally, if there are differences between the two types of headsets, this information will help to guide future communication device selection for each type of population (NH vs. SNHL vs. SNHL/Tinnitus).

Based on findings from speech understanding in noise literature, communication devices do have a negative effect on speech intelligibility within the military population when noise is present.  However, it is uncertain as to how hearing loss and/or tinnitus effects speech intelligibility and situational awareness under high-level noise environments.  This study looked at speech recognition of words presented over AC and BC headsets and measured three groups of listeners: Normal Hearing, sensorineural hearing impaired, and/or tinnitus sufferers. Three levels of speech-to-noise (SNR=0,-6,-12) were created by embedding speech items in pink noise.  Overall, performance was marginally, but significantly better for the Aftershockz bone conduction headset (Figure 2).  As would be expected, performance increases as the speech to noise ratio increases (Figure 3).

One of the most fascinating things about the data is that although the effect of hearing profile was significant, it was not practically so, the means for the Normal Hearing, Hearing Loss and Tinnitus groups were 65, 61, and 63, respectively (Figure 4).  Nor was there any interaction with any of the other variables under test.  One might conclude from the data that if the listener can control the level of presentation, the speech to noise ratio has about the same effect, regardless of hearing loss. There was no difference in performance with the TCAPS due to one’s hearing profile; however, the Aftershockz headset provided better speech intelligibility for all listeners.

Manning2

Figure 2.  Mean rationalized arcsine units measured for each of the TCAPS under test.

Manning3

Figure 3. Mean rationalized arcsine units measured as a function of speech to noise ratio.

 

Manning4

Figure 4.  Mean rationalized arcsine units observed as a function of the hearing profile of the listener.

3pSC10 – Does increasing the playback speed of men’s and women’s voices reduce their intelligibility by the same amount? – Eric M. Johnson, Sarah Hargus Ferguson

3pSC10 – Does increasing the playback speed of men’s and women’s voices reduce their intelligibility by the same amount? – Eric M. Johnson, Sarah Hargus Ferguson

Does increasing the playback speed of men’s and women’s voices reduce their intelligibility by the same amount?

 

Eric M. Johnson – eric.martin.johnson@utah.edu

Sarah Hargus Ferguson – sarah.ferguson@hsc.utah.edu

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
University of Utah
390 South 1530 East, Room 1201
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

 

Popular version of poster 3pSC10, “Gender and rate effects on speech intelligibility.”

Presented Wednesday afternoon, May 25, 2016, 1:00, Salon G

171st ASA Meeting, Salt Lake City

Older adults seeking hearing help often report having an especially hard time understanding women’s voices. However, this anecdotal observation doesn’t always agree with the findings from scientific studies. For example, Ferguson (2012) found that male and female talkers were equally intelligible for older adults with hearing loss. Moreover, several studies have found that young people with normal hearing actually understand women’s voices better than men’s voices (e.g. Bradlow et al., 1996; Ferguson, 2004). In contrast, Larsby et al. (2015) found that, when listening in background noise, groups of listeners with and without hearing loss were better at understanding a man’s voice than a woman’s voice. The Larsby et al. data suggest that female speech might be more affected by distortion like background noise than male speech is, which could explain why women’s voices may be harder to understand for some people.

We were interested to see if another type of distortion, speeding up the speech, would have an equal effect on the intelligibility of men and women. Speech that has been sped up (or time-compressed) has been shown to be less intelligible than unprocessed speech (e.g. Gordon-Salant & Friedman, 2011), but no studies have explored whether time compression causes an equal loss of intelligibility for male and female talkers. If an increase in playback speed causes women’s speech to be less intelligible than men’s, it could reveal another possible reason why so many older adults with hearing loss report difficulty understanding women’s voices. To this end, our study tested whether the intelligibility of time-compressed speech decreases for female talkers more than it does for male talkers.

Using 32 listeners with normal hearing, we measured how much the intelligibility of two men and two women went down when the playback speed of their speech was increased by 50%. These four talkers were selected based on their nearly equivalent conversational speaking rates. We used digital recordings of each talker and made two different versions of each sentence they spoke: a normal-speed version and a fast version. The software we used allowed us to speed up the recordings without making them sound high-pitched.

Audio sample 1: A sentence at its original speed.

Audio sample 2: The same sentence sped up to 50% faster than its original speed.

 

All of the sentences were presented to the listeners in background noise. We found that the men and women were essentially equally intelligible when listeners heard the sentences at their original speed. Speeding up the sentences made all of the talkers harder to understand, but the effect was much greater for the female talkers than the male talkers. In other words, there was a significant interaction between talker gender and playback speed. The results suggest that time-compression has a greater negative effect on the intelligibility of female speech than it does on male speech.

johnson & ferguson fig 1

Figure 1: Overall percent correct key-word identification performance for male and female takers in unprocessed and time-compressed conditions. Error bars indicate 95% confidence intervals.

Figure 1: Overall percent correct key-word identification performance for male and female takers in unprocessed and time-compressed conditions. Error bars indicate 95% confidence intervals.

 

These results confirm the negative effects of time-compression on speech intelligibility and imply that audiologists should counsel the communication partners of their patients to avoid speaking excessively fast, especially if the patient complains of difficulty understanding women’s voices. This counsel may be even more important for the communication partners of patients who experience particular difficulty understanding speech in noise.

 

  1. Bradlow, A. R., Torretta, G. M., and Pisoni, D. B. (1996). “Intelligibility of normal speech I: Global and fine-grained acoustic-phonetic talker characteristics,” Speech Commun. 20, 255-272.
  2. Ferguson, S. H. (2004). “Talker differences in clear and conversational speech: Vowel intelligibility for normal-hearing listeners,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 116, 2365-2373.
  3. Ferguson, S. H. (2012). “Talker differences in clear and conversational speech: Vowel intelligibility for older adults with hearing loss,” J. Speech Lang. Hear. Res. 55, 779-790.
  4. Gordon-Salant, S., and Friedman, S. A. (2011). “Recognition of rapid speech by blind and sighted older adults,” J. Speech Lang. Hear. Res. 54, 622-631.
  5. Larsby, B., Hällgren, M., Nilsson, L., and McAllister, A. (2015). “The influence of female versus male speakers’ voice on speech recognition thresholds in noise: Effects of low-and high-frequency hearing impairment,” Speech Lang. Hear. 18, 83-90.