16 Feb : The expression of gender in the human voice

Tomorrow’s talk will be on :

“The expression of gender in the human voice”

by Valentina Cartei.

1-2pm at Silvestone Building, 317. All welcome!

Synopsis

There is now a growing body of literature on the presence in the human voice of non-verbal cues to physical (size, gender), expressive (e.g. emotions) or social attributes (class, dominance). In particular, the acoustic and perceptual correlates of gender are well understood, especially in adults, – where females are known to have a voice characterized by a higher pitch, higher vocal tract resonances (or “formants”) and a more variable intonation.

Although sexual dimorphism plays an important role in vocal gender differences, these cannot only be attributed to biological factors. However, despite the effect of behavioural strategies being widely acknowledged, little is known of how and when individuals learn to express their “maleness” and “femaleness” through their voice.

To contribute to this growing body of research, this talk will focus on two recent studies about the vocal expression of gender in adults and children, showing that learning at least partially may occur by acquiring (consciously or unconsciously) articulatory behaviors during development, through imitation of models and internalization of gender-specific roles.

Biography:

Valentina is currently working part-time towards her DPhil in Psychology at Sussex University. Her research aims to characterise the acoustic and perceptual correlates to gender expression in the human voice and to investigate the contribution of bio-hormonal factors, behavioural strategies and stereotypical notions in explaining the acoustic diversity of the vocal expression of gender, by focusing on children’s voices and homosexual and heterosexual adult speakers.

Valentina is also an Associate Tutor for the School of Psychology at Sussex University.

Besides her DPhil, Valentina is currently working for Survivors Network, a Brighton-based charity that offers support to women affected by sexual violence and abuse.

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