, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 123-148

Vocal cues in emotion encoding and decoding

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This research examines the correspondence between theoretical predictions on vocal expression patterns in naturally occurring emotions (as based on the component process theory of emotion; Scherer, 1986) and empirical data on the acoustic characteristics of actors' portrayals. Two male and two female professional radio actors portrayed anger, sadness, joy, fear, and disgust based on realistic scenarios of emotion-eliciting events. A series of judgment studies was conducted to assess the degree to which judges are able to recognize the intended emotion expressions. Disgust was relatively poorly recognized; average recognition accuracy for the other emotions attained 62.8% across studies. A set of portrayals reaching a satisfactory level of recognition accuracy underwent digital acoustic analysis. The results for the acoustic parameters extracted from the speech signal show a number of significant differences between emotions, generally confirming the theoretical predictions.

This research was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Sche 156/8-5). The authors acknowledge collaboration of Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Cologne, in producing professional versions of actor emotion portrayals, and thank Kurt Balser, Theodor Gehm, Christoph Gierschner, Judy Hall, Ursula Hess, Alice Isen, and one anonymous reviewer for helpful comments and contributions.