Effects of Listener 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 the contributions of listener characteristics to the perceptual identification of African American and Caucasian speakers. Undergraduate Caucasian listeners (N=281, 44% were male) responded to auditory stimuli presented in forward and reversed temporal conditions varying by level of phonetic complexity (sentences and monosyllabic words). It was hypothesized that listener characteristics would have significant effects on four dependent variable measures: listener accuracy of identification, identification reaction time, confidence ratings, and rating reaction time. Results of a multivariate analysis showed a significant main effect of listener gender for the accuracy measure such that female listeners made more accurate identifications than did males. Significant interactions for the accuracy measure included phonetic complexity X listener gender, speaker ethnicity X listener gender, and speaker gender X listener gender. Speaker gender X listener gender was also significant for identification reaction time. Listener characteristics appear to influence speaker identification. Implications of these findings are of interest for educational, forensic, and business applications with respect to perceptual stereotyping and linguistic profiling.

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