Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 558–570 | Cite as

Are there sex effects for speech intelligibility in American English? Examining the influence of talker, listener, and methodology

  • Sarah E. YohoEmail author
  • Stephanie A. Borrie
  • Tyson S. Barrett
  • Dane B. Whittaker


Talker and listener sex in speech processing has been largely unknown and under-appreciated to this point, with many studies overlooking the possible influences. In the current study, the effects of both talker and listener sex on speech intelligibility were assessed. Different methodological approaches to measuring intelligibility (percent words correct vs. subjective rating scales) and collecting data (laboratory vs. crowdsourcing) were also evaluated. Findings revealed that, regardless of methodology, the spoken productions of female talkers were overall more intelligible than the spoken productions of male talkers; however, substantial variability across talkers was observed. Findings also revealed that when data were collected in the lab, there was an interaction between talker and listener sex. This interaction between listener and talker sex was not observed when subjective ratings were crowdsourced from listener subjects across the USA via Amazon Mechanical Turk, although overall ratings remained similar. This possibly suggests that subjective intelligibility ratings may be vulnerable to bias, and such biases may be reduced by recruiting a more heterogeneous subject pool. Many studies in speech perception do not account for these talker, listener, and methodology effects. However, the present results suggest that researchers should carefully consider these effects when assessing speech intelligibility in different conditions, and when comparing findings across studies that have used different subject demographics and/or methodologies.


Hearing Speech perception 



This paper was written with partial support from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health Grant No. R21 DC 016084 (awarded to S.A.B.). We gratefully acknowledge our research assistants Nicole Thiede and Monica Muncy for data analysis and manuscript preparation assistance.


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf EducationUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Department of Kinesiology and Health SciencesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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