16th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Dresden, Germany
September 6-10, 2015

Measuring Mimicry in Task-Oriented Conversations: Degree of Mimicry is Related to Task Difficulty

Vijay Solanki, Alessandro Vinciarelli, Jane Stuart-Smith, Rachel Smith

University of Glasgow, UK

The tendency to unconsciously imitate others in conversations has been referred to as mimicry, accommodation, interpersonal adaptation, etc. During the last few years, the computing community has made significant efforts towards the automatic detection of the phenomenon, but a widely accepted approach is still missing. Given that mimicry is the unconscious tendency to imitate others, this article proposes the adoption of speaker verification methodologies that were originally conceived to spot people trying to forge the voice of others. Preliminary experiments suggest that mimicry can be detected using this methodology by measuring how much speakers converge or diverge with respect to one another in terms of acoustic evidence. As a validation of the approach, the experiments show that convergence (speakers becoming more similar in terms of acoustic properties) tends to appear more frequently when the DiapixUK task requires more time to be completed and, therefore, is more difficult. This is interpreted as an attempt to improve communication through increased coherence.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Solanki, Vijay / Vinciarelli, Alessandro / Stuart-Smith, Jane / Smith, Rachel (2015): "Measuring mimicry in task-oriented conversations: degree of mimicry is related to task difficulty", In INTERSPEECH-2015, 1815-1819.