Relative and Absolute Judgments of Speech Rate from Masked and Content-Standard Stimuli The Influence of Vocal Frequency and Intensity



    1. Ronald N. Bond (Ph.D., New York University) is engaged in research with the American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation.
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    1. Stanley Feldstein (Ph.D., Columbia University) is a professor of psychology, University of Maryland Baltimore County.
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    1. Sallie Simpson is doctoral student in the human services psychology program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The authors are indebted to the Language Center of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and are grateful for the generous amount of computer time provided by the Academic Computing Centers of UMBC and New York University. They are also indebted to George J. Johnson, Jr., of the Electronic Shop of UMBC for the design and construction of the electronic equipment used in the studies. Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Ronald N. Bond, Department of Psychology, UMBC, 5401 Wilkens Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21228.
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In two previous studies, the perception of speech rate was found to be positively related to the vocal frequency and intensity of speech. In those studies, a single sample of spontaneous, content-masked speech was used to produce nine stimuli by factorially varying three levels of each vocal frequency and intensity, while controlling the actual speech rate of the stimuli. Participants were asked to judge each stimulus, preceded by a standard, “anchoring,” stimulus as to its speech rate, pitch, loudness, and duration. The purpose of the three studies reported here was to examine the generalizability of the previous findings by using stimuli that were nonmasked and/or were not preceded by an anchoring stimulus. In each study, nine speech stimuli were prepared, as described above, and participants were asked to make judgments about the rate, pitch, loudness, and duration of each stimulus. In the first study, the stimuli were masked but were not preceded by an anchoring stimulus. In the second study, participants listened to content-standard speech stimuli preceded by an anchoring stimulus. Finally, in the third study, content-standard stimuli without an anchoring stimulus were used. In addition, studies two and three used speech segments of a male and a female speaker. The findings from the three studies replicated the central findings of the previous studies. They suggest, in other words, that rate perception of speech is indeed influenced by vocal frequency and, to some extent, by intensity, and that these relationships are not materially altered by the speakers'gender.