The contribution of speech rate and pitch variation to the perception of vocal emotions in a German and an American sample

C. Breitenstein, D. Van Lancker, I. Daum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study examined acoustic cue utilisation for perception of vocal emotions. Two sets of vocal-emotional stimuli were presented to 35 German and 30 American listeners: (1) sentences in German spoken with five different vocal emotions; and (2) systematically rate- or pitch-altered versions of the original emotional stimuli. In addition to response frequencies on emotional categories, activity ratings were obtained. For the systematically altered stimuli, slow rate was reliably associated with the "sad" label. In contrast, fast rate was classified as angry, frightened, or neutral. Manipulation of pitch variation was less potent than rate manipulation in influencing vocal emotional category choices. Reduced pitch variation was associated with perception as sad or neutral; greater pitch variation increased frightened, angry, and happy responses. Performance was highly similar for the two samples, although across tasks, German subjects perceived greater variability of activity in the emotional stimuli than did American participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-79
Number of pages23
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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