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Acoustic impact on decoding of semantic emotion

By E J Eriksson, Felix Schaeffler and K P H Sullivan


This paper examines the interaction between the emotion indicated by the content of an utternance and the emotion indicated by the acoustic of an utterance, and considers whether a speaker can hide their emotional state by acting an emotion even though being semantically honest. Three female and two male speakers of Swedish were recorded saying the sentences "Jag har vunnit en miljon på lotto" (I have won a million on the lottery), "Det Anns böcker i bokhyllan" (There are books on the bookshelf) and "Min mamma har just dött" (my mother just died) as if they were happy, neutral (indifferent), angry or sad. Thirty-nine experimental participants (19 female and 20 male) heard 60 randomly selected stimuli randomly coupled with the question "Do you consider this speaker to be emotionally X?", where X could be angry, happy, neutral or sad. They were asked to respond yes or no; the listeners' responses and reaction times were collected. The results show that semantic cues to emotion play little role in the decoding process. Only when there are few specific acoustic cues to an emotion do semantic cues come into play. However, longer reaction times for the stimuli containing mismatched acoustic and semantic cues indicate that the semantic cues to emotion are processed even if they impact little on the perceived emotion. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Year: 2007
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