The sound of trustworthiness: Acoustic-based modulation of perceived voice personality

Abstract : When we hear a new voice we automatically form a "first impression" of the voice owner's personality; a single word is sufficient to yield ratings highly consistent across listeners. Past studies have shown correlations between personality ratings and acoustical parameters of voice, suggesting a potential acoustical basis for voice personality impressions, but its nature and extent remain unclear. Here we used data-driven voice computational modelling to investigate the link between acoustics and perceived trustworthiness in the single word "hello". Two prototypical voice stimuli were generated based on the acoustical features of voices rated low or high in perceived trustworthiness, respectively, as well as a continuum of stimuli inter-and extrapolated between these two prototypes. Five hundred listeners provided trustworthiness ratings on the stimuli via an online interface. We observed an extremely tight relationship between trustworthiness ratings and position along the trustwor-thiness continuum (r = 0.99). Not only were trustworthiness ratings higher for the high-than the low-prototypes, but the difference could be modulated quasi-linearly by reducing or exaggerating the acoustical difference between the prototypes, resulting in a strong caricaturing effect. The f0 trajectory, or intonation, appeared a parameter of particular relevance: hellos rated high in trustworthiness were characterized by a high starting f0 then a marked decrease at mid-utterance to finish on a strong rise. These results demonstrate a strong acoustical basis for voice personality impressions, opening the door to multiple potential applications.
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Pascal Belin, Bibi Boehme, Phil Mcaleer. The sound of trustworthiness: Acoustic-based modulation of perceived voice personality. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2017, 12 (10), pp.e0185651. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0185651⟩. ⟨hal-02008902⟩

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