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Children’s recognition of emotional tone-of-voice

Phillips, Lisa (2020) Children’s recognition of emotional tone-of-voice. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Compared to adults, children demonstrate lower recognition in vocal emotion recognition tasks across past literature. This thesis explored if the quality of stimuli used in assessing recognition (of anger, fear, happiness, sadness, pleasant-surprise, and neutrality) could meaningfully influence (8-to-11-year-old) children’s recognition rates. For this purpose, high-quality stimuli were created, followed by thorough validation of materials. The first quality factor explored was the intensity of emotion expressed through stimuli. Children and adults heard speech with varying emotional intensity: increased levels significantly increased emotion recognition. Crucially, children generally performed well and were not outperformed by adults for all stimuli. This suggests that children appear to benefit from intensity cues. Length/duration of stimuli was the second quality examined. Recognition of emotions and pattern of identification timings were investigated. Children heard emotional narrative passages and responded at two time-points. At the earliest time-point, children generally recognised negative emotions more accurately than positive, offering some support to action intention and negativity bias. Overall, passages were well-recognised but not necessarily better than shorter, sentence-stimuli. A third investigation considered whether practice/training could improve children’s emotion recognition. Children listened to an emotion-based audio-story, once-daily for 10 days. A post-training task tested recognition of speaker affect from storytellers and non-storytellers. Accuracy significantly increased after training (not replicated with non-trained controls) irrespective of the speaker (i.e., storytellers/non-storytellers).Findings suggest listening to vocalised emotions periodically can promote emotion identification skills in neurotypically developing children. Finally, the effect speaker familiarity has on children’s recognition was considered. Children heard emotional speech from their head-teacher or from strangers. The former were not better recognised than the latter. Mean accuracy indicated the teacher-pupil relationship may not be familiar enough. ‘Familiarity effect’ may occur after children’s greater exposure to a range of expressed emotions. Combined, results indicate that stimuli properties influence children’s emotional speech processing abilities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Lisa Phillips
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2020 10:41
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2020 10:41

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