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The effects of difficulty and gain versus loss on vocal physiology and acoustics

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To examine the basis of emotional changes to the voice, physiological and electroglottal measures were combined with acoustic speech analysis of 30 men performing a computer task in which they lost or gained points under two levels of difficulty. Predictions of the main effects of difficulty and reward on the voice were not borne out by the data. Instead, vocal changes depended largely on interactions between gain versus loss and difficulty. The rate at which the vocal folds open and close (fundamental frequency; f0) was higher for loss than for gain when difficulty was high, but not when difficulty was low. Electroglottal measures revealed that f0 changes corresponded to shorter glottal open times for the loss conditions. Longer closed and shorter open phases were consistent with raised laryngeal tension in difficult loss conditions. Similarly, skin conductance indicated higher sympathetic arousal in loss than gain conditions, particularly when difficulty was high. The results provide evidence of the physiological basis of affective vocal responses, confirming the utility of measuring physiology and voice in the study of emotion.
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Keywords: Difficulty; Electroglottography; Emotional prosody; Physiology; Valence; Voice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Psychology Department, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland 2: School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia 3: School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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