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Conference Paper

Social accountability influences phonetic alignment


Mitterer,  Holger
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;
Language Comprehension Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Mitterer, H. (2011). Social accountability influences phonetic alignment. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Program abstracts of the 162nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, 130(4), 2442.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-2789-0
Speakers tend to take over the articulatory habits of their interlocutors [e.g., Pardo, JASA (2006)]. This phonetic alignment could be the consequence of either a social mechanism or a direct and automatic link between speech perception and production. The latter assumes that social variables should have little influence on phonetic alignment. To test that participants were engaged in a "cloze task" (i.e., Stimulus: "In fantasy movies, silver bullets are used to kill ..." Response: "werewolves") with either one or four interlocutors. Given findings with the Asch-conformity paradigm in social psychology, multiple consistent speakers should exert a stronger force on the participant to align. To control the speech style of the interlocutors, their questions and answers were pre-recorded in either a formal or a casual speech style. The stimuli's speech style was then manipulated between participants and was consistent throughout the experiment for a given participant. Surprisingly, participants aligned less with the speech style if there were multiple interlocutors. This may reflect a "diffusion of responsibility:" Participants may find it more important to align when they interact with only one person than with a larger group.