Listeners’ perceptions of speaker personality traits based on speech


Purpose: Voice and speech are rich with information about a speaker’s personality and other features of identity. This study seeks to determine the extent to which listeners agree about speakers’ social, physical, and personality attributes. Method: Two experiments were conducted. In the first experiment, listeners rated a group of speakers who were unbalanced for sex and personality traits. The second experiment elaborated on the first by ensuring the speaker set was balanced for sex and personality traits. Both experiments played standard speech samples from speakers who provided personality information via the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire–Brief Form. Groups of listeners rated each speaker on the same personality traits and other features of identity. Responses were analyzed for listener agreement. Results: For both experiments, listeners showed consistently high levels of agreement on the personality attributes of a speaker. For certain speakers, listener agreement on some personality traits was as high as 92% and 97% in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively. Furthermore, a range of agreement across personality subscales was observed across speakers such that some were agreed-upon across all personality ratings and others were agreed-upon only for a few personality traits. Conclusions: When it comes to judging personality traits and other features of identity, most listeners might not be “correct” about speakers’ traits and attributes, but they broadly agree about how the listener sounds. Some speakers send more salient voice and speech cues that drive agreement about their personality, whereas others speak in a manner that precludes consensus. Supplemental Material: https://doi.org/10.23641/asha. 16906990.

Publication Title

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research