Effects of Speaker Characteristics on Speaker Identification by European American Listeners

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Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, Hope College

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This study examined perceptual identification of African American and Caucasian speakers by undergraduate Caucasian listeners (N=281; 124 male, 157 female). Listeners responded to auditory stimuli presented in forward and reversed temporal conditions varying by level of phonetic complexity (sentences and monosyllabic words). It was predicted that speaker characteristics would have significant effects on measures of listener accuracy of identification, identification reaction time, confidence ratings, and rating reaction time. Results showed significant main and interaction effects with regard to manipulations of phonetic complexity and temporal condition, as well as speaker ethnicity and speaker gender across the four dependent measures. Speaker characteristics do, in fact, contribute to speaker identification. These findings suggest important implications for educational, forensic, and business applications with respect to linguistic profiling and perceptual stereotyping.

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