Vocal personality and emotion perception across the early lifespan

Mahrholz, Gaby (2022) Vocal personality and emotion perception across the early lifespan. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The voice is a rich source of social information, and humans have been shown to make quick judgements about trustworthiness and affect perceptions. These initial impressions are proposed to influence our subsequent behaviours and actions towards a person, i.e. whether to approach or avoid them. So far, the literature has investigated vocal trustworthiness perceptions in adult populations, but research exploring its early developmental trajectories is currently missing. Contrastingly, the early maturation of perceived vocal emotion has been studied with a variety of different stimulus types. Yet, there is a gap in the literature for utilising socially-relevant stimuli that are of high ecological validity. Furthermore, listener age has been used as a categorical variable in the majority of research in the field with no consistent age group allocations. This PhD aims to target the gaps in our current understanding of the early developmental trajectories of vocal trustworthiness and affect using age predominantly as a continuous variable. Additionally, we aim to support future research by creating an open-access database of vocal stimuli that are validated on a variety of emotion and personality measures.

Chapter 2 addresses the early development of perceived vocal trustworthiness using emotionally-neutral recordings of the socially-relevant word “hello”. The findings suggest that perceptions of trustworthiness already exist at 5 years of age, however ratings become slightly more positive and “nuanced” with increasing age into early adulthood. In Chapter 3, we expand on the existing literature by investigating developmental patterns of perceived vocal emotion between childhood and early adulthood, using affect representations of the word stimulus “hello”. Findings from this large-scale study suggest that children are able to recognise vocal emotion at higher than chance levels, however, that ability improved significantly with increasing age. We also find that different emotion categories mature at different rates and results are not dependent on either listener sex or speaker sex per se. In Chapter 4, we create the Glasgow vocal emotion and personality corpus starting with affect recordings of the socially-relevant word “hello”. The database is validated on a variety of social measures such as trustworthiness, dominance, attractiveness, affect recognition, recognisability, authenticity, valance and arousal, as well as perceived intensity. It is openly accessible (with a CC BY 4.0 license), free of charge, and can be used in a variety of settings. Therefore, this corpus is not only a valuable contribution to open science, it also enhances the field by building the foundation for future research aiming to study vocal personality and vocal emotion in unison. Finally, Chapter 5 discusses the implications of the key findings from in this thesis, and highlights limitations and potential future directions for the field.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Supervisor's Name: McAleer, Dr. Philip and Cleland Woods, Dr. Heather
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-83075
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2022 14:46
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2022 14:46
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83075
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/83075
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