Presenter 1: Katherine Conner (QP1)
Title: (Re)Examining Pitch, Vocal Creak, and Perceptions of Young Women’s Professionalism
Abstract: Previous work on the perception of vocal creak when present in the speech of young women has offered a large array of characteristics attributed to the speakers by listeners. While Yuasa (2010) stated creak was linked to ratings of urban-ness, upward mobility, professionalism, and educatedness, Anderson et al., (2014) stated that creak presence in young women’s speech elicited ratings of less hirability, less professionalism, less education, and less competence. The aforementioned studies both discuss the possible narrative that young women might be leveraging creak as a means to reap “the same benefits that accrue to an individual with a naturally lower-pitched voice” (Anderson et al., 2014, p. 6). Through this study, I more closely examined the perceptual links between pitch and creak within young women’s speech, professed language ideologies surrounding young women’s speech, and whether knowledge of creak might affect the ratings of young women’s voices. This study utilized a listening and rating task focused on 6 traits (Authoritativeness, Professionalism, Educatedness, Attractiveness, Femininity, and Friendliness), and a set of measures to gauge the listeners’ ideologies surrounding women’s speech in the workplace and attitudes on policing women’s speech. The current results of this study suggest a more nuanced picture than previously presented. Through the use of mixed regression modelling, the analysis points to the average pitch of the utterance in question being a strongly significant factor (<.001) in driving both the “professionalism” and “nice” factor ratings from participants for the stimuli presented. Furthermore, the current results suggest that there is a link between the listeners’ ratings of the “professionalism” factor categories and the listeners’ workplace speech ideologies.
Presenter 2: John Ross (QP1)
Title: Sub-categorical gender expectations influence speech processing
Abstract: Listeners take advantage of social information about talkers to make predictions about their speech, and these predictions can affect speech processing. Prior work demonstrates that speech processing outcomes, like intelligibility, can be harmed by mismatches between the speech signal and non-linguistic social information, such as presenting an Asian-accented voice accompanied by a Caucasian face. Previous research has focused on mismatches that cross social category boundaries, i.e. pairing stimuli from members of different social categories. This study investigated whether listeners are also sensitive to within-category mismatches, specifically when mapping the acoustics of speech onto phonemes. Face-voice pairs were constructed of male and female faces and voices. Faces and voices were separately evaluated either as prototypical for their gender, e.g. a high-femininity female face, or ambiguous-leaning, e.g. a low-femininity female face. Face-voice pairs either matched in both typicality and gender, mismatched only in typicality, mismatched only in gender, or mismatched in both typicality and gender. Participants carried out a lexical classification task with these face-voice pairs as stimuli and a stimulus evaluation task assessing how well the face-voice pairs fit together. Results demonstrated that listener evaluations of stimulus fit had little bearing on performance. Reaction time data indicated that listeners were sensitive to both within- and cross-category mismatches. However, differing performance for male and female voices suggested that speech processing was influenced not only by whether face-voice pairs matched but also by prior expectations on how members of a particular gender can vary.
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