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J Speech Hear Res. 1992 Jun;35(3):512-20.

Individual differences in voice quality perception.

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  • 1VA Medical Center, West Los Angeles.


Sixteen listeners (10 expert, 6 naive) judged the dissimilarity of pairs of voices drawn from pathological and normal populations. Separate nonmetric multidimensional scaling solutions were calculated for each listener and voice set. The correlations between individual listeners' dissimilarity ratings were low. However, scaling solutions indicated that each subject judged the voices in a reliable, meaningful way. Listeners differed more from one another in their judgments of the pathological voices (which varied widely on a number of acoustic parameters) than they did for the normal voices (which formed a much more homogeneous set acoustically). The acoustic features listeners used to judge dissimilarity were predictable from the characteristics of the stimulus sets: only parameters that showed substantial variability were perceptually salient across listeners. These results are consistent with prototype models of voice perception. They suggest that traditional means of assessing listener reliability in voice perception tasks may not be appropriate, and highlight the importance of using explicit comparisons between stimuli when studying voice quality perception.

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