Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
Alignment of human behavior is a well-documented phenomenon, however, the factors which influence its direction and magnitude are not firmly established. Conversational partners align on a variety of speech factors including word choice, syntax, and rate of speech. The present study examines factors which lead to alignment of fundamental frequency (F0), colloquially known as pitch. Subjects (Speakers) complete a puzzle task which requires them to communicate with a partner (Model). The Model’s F0 is manipulated to either converge towards or diverge from that of the Speaker, whereas a control condition does not change the Model voice. The Speaker is recorded throughout the interaction (Task); baseline (Pre-task) and final (Post-task) recordings are also taken. Speakers’ F0 is measured at each time-period to determine the direction and magnitude of alignment. In a separate session, naïve subjects (Listeners) assess the similarity between the Speaker’s speech over time and the Model. A personality survey examines which factors serve as reliable predictors of alignment. Speakers are found to deviate from the Model in F0 during the interaction, however, are perceived by Listeners to mimic the Model over time in a holistic measure. These findings are consistent regardless of the Model’s direction of alignment. Speakers are rated as becoming more like the Model when this partner diverges as opposed to converges. The personality factor survey shows that Openness predicts alignment. Specifically, greater Openness predicts less perceived similarity. None of the other personality factors (conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism) are found to share a significant relationship with alignment behavior. Alignment between any two time-periods throughout the experiment predicts alignment with the third. The discrepancy between Speakers’ divergence in the acoustic measure and their rated convergence in the perceptual measure reveals a potential hierarchy of speech factors that we use to assess alignment.
Pollack, Elliot A., "Cooperation via Communication: Influencing Vocal Alignment in Conversation". Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2017.
Trinity College Digital Repository, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/674