14thAnnual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Lyon, France
August 25-29, 2013

Perceived Vocal Attractiveness Across Dialects is Similar but not Uniform

Molly Babel (1), Grant McGuire (2)

(1) University of British Columbia, Canada
(2) University of California at Santa Cruz, USA

This study reports on three populations' ratings of vocal attractiveness for 30 male and 30 female voices producing isolated words. Equal numbers of male and female listeners were recruited from three dialect areas: northern California, western Canada, and Minnesota. Attractiveness ratings across dialects were highly correlated, particularly for female voices. To determine the acoustic features which influenced listener ratings, detailed acoustic analyses of vowel quality and voice quality were conducted. These measures were entered into separate principal component analyses to reduce the dimensionality. Principal components and additional measures of duration and F0 were entered into models to assess which acoustic features predict attractiveness ratings across dialects. The results indicate that despite the highly correlated ratings across dialects, listener populations differed slightly in the phonetic features used to make attractiveness judgments. Listeners from the more similar dialect groups (California and western Canada) used similar acoustic features in their judgments, supporting the hypothesis that vocal attractiveness involves community-specific preferences. These results support a theory of vocal attractiveness which considers community-specific norms in assessing vocal preferences.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Babel, Molly / McGuire, Grant (2013): "Perceived vocal attractiveness across dialects is similar but not uniform", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 426-430.