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Theoretical and legal issues related to choice blindness for voices

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Abstract

Purpose. To examine whether choice blindness occurs for auditory stimuli, namely voices.

Methods. One hundred participants listened to three pairs of voices and had to decide each time which one they found more sympathetic or sounded more criminal. After they made a choice, participants were presented with the chosen voice again and had to match it to a face. However, during the second trial, participants were actually presented with the voice they had previously not chosen.

Results. Only 19% of the participants detected this change concurrently, an additional 10% detected it retrospectively. This indicates that choice blindness transfers to auditory stimuli. Whether participants had previously evaluated sympathy or criminality of the voices had no effect on choice blindness.

Conclusions. The study shows that choice blindness is a robust phenomenon that can also be elicited when auditory stimuli are employed. Implications for earwitness testimony and expert witnesses in the context of forensic speech analysis are discussed.

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