, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 215-221

Perceiving affect from the voice and the face


This experiment examines how emotion is perceived by using facial and vocal cues of a speaker. Three levels of facial affect were presented using a computer-generated face. Three levels of vocal affect were obtained by recording the voice of a male amateur actor who spoke a semantically neutral word in different simulated emotional states. These two independent variables were presented to subjects in all possible permutations—visual cues alone, vocal cues alone, and visual and vocal cues together—which gave a total set of 15 stimuli. The subjects were asked to judge the emotion of the stimuli in a two-alternative forced choice task (either HAPPY or ANGRY). The results indicate that subjects evaluate and integrate information from both modalities to perceive emotion. The influence of one modality was greater to the extent that the other was ambiguous (neutral). The fuzzy logical model of perception (FLMP) fit the judgments significantly better than an additive model, which weakens theories based on an additive combination of modalities, categorical perception, and influence from only a single modality.

This research was supported, in part, by grants from the the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institutes of Health (2 R01 DC00236-13A1), the National Science Foundation (BNS 8812728), and the University of California, Santa Cruz. The authors thank Michael M. Cohen for help at all stages of this research.