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Exploring the forensic audiofit : non-linguist perceptions, conceptions, descriptions and evaluations of unfamiliar voices in a forensic context

Griffiths, Mark 2009. Exploring the forensic audiofit : non-linguist perceptions, conceptions, descriptions and evaluations of unfamiliar voices in a forensic context. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Research in the field of forensic linguistics has in recent years advanced our understanding of the processes and practice of speaker identification, yet the area of forensic speaker description remains unexplored. Drawing on research and methodologies from forensic linguistics, language attitudes and social psychology, this study investigates how non-linguists perceive and conceive of unknown speakers' accents and voices, and how language ideologies and social stereotypes interact with these perceptions. The study presents two groups of non-linguist respondents with recordings of five speakers responding to interview questions in pseudo-legal and non-legal control contexts. The analysis considers three major aspects of the non-linguists' responses: firstly, descriptions of speaker accent, accuracy of respondent estimations and possible mediating factors secondly, non-linguists' voice descriptions from the first cohort of respondents, and their presentation to the second cohort in the form of an audiofit framework thirdly, the study compares speaker evaluations of voices against the findings of previous studies, uniting research on general speaker evaluations of accents with studies on the attributions of guilt. Interacting mechanisms that mediate these evaluations are discussed. Through quantitative statistical analysis, the study finds that non-linguists from the south of the UK perform well at locating accents geographically and socially when provided with information through the vocal channel only, and that accuracy of estimations is further enhanced by providing an assisting framework. For description of voice characteristics, the study finds that many of the features that are salient to and articulated by non-linguists form a useful basis for the an audiofit descriptor of voice characteristics, and are enhanced by respondents' consideration of possible soundalikes as a shorthand for conveying the salient characteristics. Finally, the study finds that the relationship between accent and attributions of guilt is more indirect and complex than previous literature may have indicated, noting that the common favouring or disfavouring of accents may be bound with unconscious evaluations of intelligence and aggression, and also with the voice characteristics of the individual being evaluated.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
ISBN: 9781303214868
Funders: ERSC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:31

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