Listeners are more likely to hear a synthetic fricative ambiguous between /s/ and /∫/ as /∫/ if it is appended to a woman’s voice than a man’s voice [Strand, J. Lang. Soc. Psych. 18, 86–99 (1999)], suggesting that speech perception is sensitive to social‐indexical information. This study examined the influence of two variables on listeners’ fricative perception: (a) talker sex, and (b) talkers’ perceived sexual orientation (PSO, i.e., the probability that a talker is identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (GLB) based on speech alone). Stimuli were created by pairing a synthetic nine‐step /s/‐to‐/∫/ series with tokens of /æk/ and /Ip/ taken from natural productions of shack and ship by 44 talkers (22 women, 22 men), for a total of 88 different continua. Forty listeners rated the 44 talkers’ PSO. A different group of 10 listeners participated in a series of two‐alternative sack‐shack and sip‐ship identification experiments. As expected, listeners identified more /∫/ tokens for women’s voices than for men’s. GLB‐sounding women elicited significantly fewer /∫/ percepts than heterosexual‐sounding women. No consistent influence of PSO on fricative identification was noted for men’s voices. Regression analyses showed strong relationships between fricative identification and ratings of PSO for women talkers only.
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The gradient influence of talker sex and perceived sexual orientation on fricative perception
Benjamin Munson, Sarah V. Jefferson, Elizabeth C. McDonald; The gradient influence of talker sex and perceived sexual orientation on fricative perception. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 April 2005; 117 (4_Supplement): 2568. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4788553
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