The Perception of Overlapping Speech: Effects of Speaker Prosody and Listener Attitudes

Katherine Hilton


Speakers use overlapping speech to achieve a range of interactional moves. Competitive overlaps, or interruptions, challenge an interlocutor’s control of the conversational floor, while non-competitive overlaps, like back-channeling and co-constructed discourse, communicate engagement with the conversation and ratify the interlocutor’s right to be speaking. Being able to evaluate the intentions behind moments of overlap is critical for interlocutors, as well as researchers seeking to model human-human interaction. Researchers have analyzed the acoustics of overlapping speech in order to understand what determines whether an overlap is heard as competitive or non-competitive. They have overwhelmingly found that prosodic prominence plays an important role; incoming overlaps with higher pitch and intensity are more competitive or interruptive. However, no research has directly tested whether and how listeners use prosodic cues to evaluate moments of overlap. Furthermore, much of the current research on classifying overlapping speech ignores listener variability. The present study uses a perception experiment with 500 participants to test the effects of speaker prosody and listener attitudes on the evaluation of overlapping speech. The results demonstrate that prosodic prominence does significantly affect evaluations of overlapping speech, but it is mediated by the listener’s own interactional style and attitudes toward overlapping speech.


DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2016-1456

Cite as

Hilton, K. (2016) The Perception of Overlapping Speech: Effects of Speaker Prosody and Listener Attitudes. Proc. Interspeech 2016, 1260-1264.

Bibtex
@inproceedings{Hilton2016,
author={Katherine Hilton},
title={The Perception of Overlapping Speech: Effects of Speaker Prosody and Listener Attitudes},
year=2016,
booktitle={Interspeech 2016},
doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2016-1456},
url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2016-1456},
pages={1260--1264}
}