Age, hearing loss and the perception of affective utterances in conversational speech

Schmidt, J., Janse, E., & Scharenborg, O. (2014). Age, hearing loss and the perception of affective utterances in conversational speech. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2014: 15th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (pp. 1929-1933).
This study investigates whether age and/or hearing loss influence the perception of the emotion dimensions arousal (calm vs. aroused) and valence (positive vs. negative attitude) in conversational speech fragments. Specifically, this study focuses on the relationship between participants' ratings of affective speech and acoustic parameters known to be associated with arousal and valence (mean F0, intensity, and articulation rate). Ten normal-hearing younger and ten older adults with varying hearing loss were tested on two rating tasks. Stimuli consisted of short sentences taken from a corpus of conversational affective speech. In both rating tasks, participants estimated the value of the emotion dimension at hand using a 5-point scale. For arousal, higher intensity was generally associated with higher arousal in both age groups. Compared to younger participants, older participants rated the utterances as less aroused, and showed a smaller effect of intensity on their arousal ratings. For valence, higher mean F0 was associated with more negative ratings in both age groups. Generally, age group differences in rating affective utterances may not relate to age group differences in hearing loss, but rather to other differences between the age groups, as older participants' rating patterns were not associated with their individual hearing loss.
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