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Stress and Deception in Speech: Evaluating Layered Voice Analysis* 

Authors

  • James D. Harnsberger Ph.D.,

    1. Institute for Advanced Study of the Communication Processes, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
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  • Harry Hollien Ph.D.,

    1. Institute for Advanced Study of the Communication Processes, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
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  • Camilo A. Martin M.D.,

    1. Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and University of Florida Psychiatry Department, Gainesville, FL 32601.
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  • Kevin A. Hollien B.A.

    1. Institute for Advanced Study of the Communication Processes, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
    2. Forensic Communication Associates, Box 12323, University Station, Gainesville, FL 32604.
    3. Posthumous.
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  • * 

    This research was supported by CIFA contract FA-4814-04-0011.

Additional information and reprint requests:
James D. Harnsberger, Ph.D.
Institute for Advanced Study of the Communication Processes
68 Dauer Hall
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
E-mail: jharns@csd.ufl.edu

Abstract

Abstract:  This study was designed to evaluate commonly used voice stress analyzers—in this case the layered voice analysis (LVA) system. The research protocol involved the use of a speech database containing materials recorded while highly controlled deception and stress levels were systematically varied. Subjects were 24 each males/females (age range 18–63 years) drawn from a diverse population. All held strong views about some issue; they were required to make intense contradictory statements while believing that they would be heard/seen by peers. The LVA system was then evaluated by means of a double blind study using two types of examiners: a pair of scientists trained and certified by the manufacturer in the proper use of the system and two highly experienced LVA instructors provided by this same firm. The results showed that the “true positive” (or hit) rates for all examiners averaged near chance (42–56%) for all conditions, types of materials (e.g., stress vs. unstressed, truth vs. deception), and examiners (scientists vs. manufacturers). Most importantly, the false positive rate was very high, ranging from 40% to 65%. Sensitivity statistics confirmed that the LVA system operated at about chance levels in the detection of truth, deception, and the presence of high and low vocal stress states.

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