Social accountability influences phonetic alignment

Mitterer, H. (2011). Social accountability influences phonetic alignment. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Program abstracts of the 162nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, 130(4), 2442.
Speakers tend to take over the articulatory habits of their interlocutors [e.g., Pardo, JASA (2006)]. This phonetic alignment could be the consequence of either a social mechanism or a direct and automatic link between speech perception and production. The latter assumes that social variables should have little influence on phonetic alignment. To test that participants were engaged in a "cloze task" (i.e., Stimulus: "In fantasy movies, silver bullets are used to kill ..." Response: "werewolves") with either one or four interlocutors. Given findings with the Asch-conformity paradigm in social psychology, multiple consistent speakers should exert a stronger force on the participant to align. To control the speech style of the interlocutors, their questions and answers were pre-recorded in either a formal or a casual speech style. The stimuli's speech style was then manipulated between participants and was consistent throughout the experiment for a given participant. Surprisingly, participants aligned less with the speech style if there were multiple interlocutors. This may reflect a "diffusion of responsibility:" Participants may find it more important to align when they interact with only one person than with a larger group.
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