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  • Public defence: 2019-12-16 10:00 Krusenstjernasalen, Gävle
    Skoog Waller, Sara
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Estimation of Speaker Age: Effects of Speech Properties and Speech Material2019Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this thesis was to investigate factors related to accuracy in estimation of speaker age and the role of certain speech properties in perception and manipulation of speaker age, as well as their interaction with the speech material that the age estimates were based on. This thesis consists of three studies.

    In Study 1 the aim was to investigate the role of speech rate as well as the level of accuracy in estimation of speaker age, depending on linguistic variation in the speech material (read versus spontaneous speech). In two experiments, one using read speech from 36 female and male speakers in three age groups (younger: 20-25 years, middle aged: 40-45 years and older:60-65 years old) as stimuli, and the other using spontaneous speech from the same speakers, we investigated how changes in speech rate influenced listeners’ age estimates of young adult, middle aged and older speakers. The results revealed that listeners estimated the speakers as younger when speech rate was faster than normal and as older when speech rate was slower than normal. This speech rate effect was slightly greater in magnitude for older speakers in comparison with younger speakers, suggesting that speech rate may gain greater importance as a perceptual age cue with increased speaker age. This pattern was more pronounced in Experiment 2, in which listeners estimated age from spontaneous speech. Faster speech rate was associated with lower age estimates, but only for older and middle aged speakers. Taken together, speakers of all age groups were estimated as older when speech rate was decreased, except for the youngest speakers in Experiment 2. The absence of a linear speech rate effect in estimates of younger speakers, for spontaneous speech, implies that listeners use different age estimation strategies or cues (possibly vocabulary) depending on the age of the speaker and the spontaneity of the speech.

    Study 2 investigated how speakers spontaneously manipulate two age related vocal characteristics (fundamental frequency and speech rate) in attempts to sound younger versus older than their true age, and if the manipulations correspond to actual age related changes in fundamental frequency (F0) and speech rate. The study also aimed at determining how successful vocal age disguise is by asking listeners to estimate the age of generated speech samples and to examine whether or not listeners use F0 and speech rate as cues to perceived age. Participants from three age groups (20–25, 40–45, and 60–65 years) agreed to read a short text under three voice conditions. There were 12 speakers in each age group (six women and six men). They used their natural voice in one condition, attempted to sound 20 years younger in another and 20 years older in a third condition. Sixty listeners were exposed to speech samples from the three voice conditions and estimated the speakers’ age. Each listener was exposed to all three voice conditions. The results indicated that the speakers increased F0 and speech rate when attempting to sound younger and decreased F0 and speech rate when attempting to sound older. The voice manipulations had an effect on age estimation in the sought-after direction, although the achieved mean effect was only 3 years, which is far less than the intended effect of 20 years. Moreover, listeners used speech rate, but not F0, as a cue to speaker age. It was concluded that age disguise by voice can be achieved by naïve speakers even though the perceived effect was smaller than intended.

    In Study 3 the aim was to study confidence and accuracy in estimates of speaker age and whether confidence can serve as an indicator of estimation accuracy. Two experiments were performed investigating accuracy in estimation of speaker age, as well as the listeners’ confidence that their estimates were correct. In Experiment 1 listeners made age estimates based on spontaneous speech while in Experiment 2 the estimates were based on read speech. The purpose of the study was to explore differences in accuracy and confidence depending on speech material, speaker characteristics (gender and age) and listener gender. Another purpose was to examine the realism in the listeners’ confidence ratings in estimations of spontaneous versus read speech. No differences in accuracy or confidence were found due to speech material type. Although accuracy was higher in estimates of male speakers, confidence was higher in estimates of female speakers. As the correlation between confidence and accuracy was weak, it was concluded that confidence should not be relied on as an indicator of accuracy in estimation of speaker age.

    The three studies in this thesis provide some insight into different aspects of perception of speaker age. Possible implications of the results and suggestions for further research are discussed.

  • Public defence: 2019-12-17 13:00 13:111, Gävle
    Langeborg, Linda
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology and Social Work.
    Anchoring biases in estimations of age, weight and height2019Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The main purpose of this thesis was to study the circumstances under which anchoring biases occur for estimation of age, weight and height. Paper I investigated accuracy and biases in age estimates made by salespersons with experience in age estimation, compared to a control group without any similar experience. The accuracy in age estimates of young target persons (15-24 years old) made by salespersons was higher than that of control persons. Moreover, the salespersons demonstrated less overestimation of the age of younger target persons, and whereas the control group own-anchored in their age estimates, the salespersons did not. Paper II and IV investigated gender differences in the tendency to own-anchor in within- and cross-gender estimates of age, weight and height. Both papers found that women own-anchor spontaneously both within and across gender, whereas men for the most part own-anchor only in their estimates of other men. Paper IV also investigated the possibility to increase own-anchoring by priming the participants’ use of their own characteristics in their estimation of age, weight and height. Elaborated similarity priming (asking the participants to state their estimates in relation to their own characteristics) did influence the estimates, by increasing the participants’ tendency to own-anchor. Paper III aimed to investigate whether standard anchoring effects (i.e., assimilation towards explicit, experimenter-provided comparison values) occur for estimations of age and quantities – estimations based on visual stimuli and made with a higher degree of certainty as compared to the judgments traditionally used in the standard anchoring paradigm. Anchor effects were found for both age estimations and quantity estimations, and were not affected by neither cognitive load nor source credibility.

  • Public defence: 2020-01-17 10:15 F234, Östersund
    Widenstjerna, Thomas
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.
    Vem väljer vem och varför?: Om betydelsen av homosocialitet och personliga kontakter i partiers nomineringsprocesser2020Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this thesis was to study Swedish intra-party nomination processes for political appointments at the municipal, regional and national levels. This was accomplished by studying whether, and if so how, nomination processes are affected by identification and the existence of personal contacts and networks, based in part on homosociality and network capital. Homosociality proceeds from the assumption that people who are perceived as being similar are preferred at the expense of those perceived as different. Network capital is based on the premise that personal contacts and networks are a form of capital that can be accumulated and spent to achieve set goals, such as being nominated for a political appointment. The empirical material comprises 32 semi-structured in-depth interviews with members of nomination committees (selectors) in the Västernorrland region of Sweden that participated in nomination processes in connection with local, regional and national elections in 2010 and 2014. The respondents were selected through snowball sampling and were asked during the interviews how they believe their personal views on candidates and personal networks affect the selection processes of nomination committees. The analysis shows that nomination committees preferred candidates whom they perceived to be similar to them, in ways including socioeconomic factors, age, gender, or geographical origins. The analysis also shows that access to personal contacts often determined whether or not a candidate was nominated. This was partly because personal contacts worked as references for new politicians that were used to ameliorate the risk of nominating individuals who might be perceived as unsuitable and partly because people in the networks of selectors or those of their friends and family were often regarded as more credible. Another observation was the central role of the local level in the parties’ recruitment and nomination activities. The analysis also showed that long-term political experience at the local level was usually required of the people who stood as candidates for regional or national political appointments. Lacking local experience, the opportunity to be nominated for these appointments was virtually nil. As well, the analysis showed that homosociality can promote the formation of network capital, as people who perceive that they are similar each other are attracted to each other and form networks that become part of overall network capital.