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J Exp Soc Psychol. 2010 May 1;46(3):557-563.

I Like the Sound of Your Voice: Affective Learning about Vocal Signals.

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  • 1University of California, Davis.


This paper provides the first demonstration that the content of what a talker says is sufficient to imbue the acoustics of his voice with affective meaning. In two studies, participants listened to male talkers utter positive, negative, or neutral words. Next, participants completed a sequential evaluative priming task where a neutral word spoken by one of the same talkers was presented before each target word to be evaluated. We predicted, and found, that voices served as evaluative primes that influenced the speed with which participants evaluated the target words. These two experiments demonstrate that the human voice can take on affective meaning merely based on the positive or negative value of the words uttered by that voice. Implications for affective processing, the pragmatics of communication, and person-perception are discussed.

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