“Do I Sound Straight?”: Acoustic Correlates of Actual and Perceived Sexual Orientation and Masculinity/Femininity in Men's Speech Purpose This study aims to give an integrative answer on which speech stereotypes exist toward German gay and straight men, whether and how acoustic correlates of actual and perceived sexual orientation are connected, and how this relates to masculinity/femininity. Hence, it tests speech stereotype accuracy in the context of sexual ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 13, 2018
“Do I Sound Straight?”: Acoustic Correlates of Actual and Perceived Sexual Orientation and Masculinity/Femininity in Men's Speech
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sven Kachel
    DFG Research Unit Person Perception, Institute of Psychology, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany
    Department of Social, Environmental, and Economic Psychology, University of Koblenz–Landau, Germany
  • Adrian P. Simpson
    DFG Research Unit Person Perception, Institute of Psychology, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany
    Department of German Linguistics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
  • Melanie C. Steffens
    DFG Research Unit Person Perception, Institute of Psychology, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany
    Department of Social, Environmental, and Economic Psychology, University of Koblenz–Landau, Germany
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Sven Kachel: sven.kachel@uni-jena.de
  • Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss
    Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss×
  • Editor: Jack Liang
    Editor: Jack Liang×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 13, 2018
“Do I Sound Straight?”: Acoustic Correlates of Actual and Perceived Sexual Orientation and Masculinity/Femininity in Men's Speech
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, July 2018, Vol. 61, 1560-1578. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0125
History: Received April 8, 2017 , Revised September 13, 2017 , Accepted December 7, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, July 2018, Vol. 61, 1560-1578. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0125
History: Received April 8, 2017; Revised September 13, 2017; Accepted December 7, 2017

Purpose This study aims to give an integrative answer on which speech stereotypes exist toward German gay and straight men, whether and how acoustic correlates of actual and perceived sexual orientation are connected, and how this relates to masculinity/femininity. Hence, it tests speech stereotype accuracy in the context of sexual orientation.

Method Twenty-five gay and 26 straight German speakers provided data for a fine-grained psychological self-assessment (e.g., masculinity/femininity) and explicit speech stereotypes. They were recorded for an extensive set of read and spontaneous speech samples using microphones and nasometry. Recordings were analyzed for a variety of acoustic parameters (e.g., fundamental frequency and nasalance). Seventy-four listeners categorized speakers as gay or straight on the basis of the same sentence.

Results Most relevant explicitly expressed speech stereotypes encompass voice pitch, nasality, chromaticity, and smoothness. Demonstrating implicit stereotypes, speakers were perceived as sounding straighter, the lower their median f0, center of gravity in /s/, and mean F2. However, based on actual sexual orientation, straight men only showed lower mean F1 than gay men. Additionally, we found evidence that actual masculinity/femininity and the degree of sexual orientation were reflected in gay and straight men's speech.

Conclusion Implicit and explicit speech stereotypes about gay and straight men do not contain a kernel of truth, and differences within groups are more important than differences between them.

Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.6484001

Acknowledgments
The current research was funded by a grant from the German Research Foundation to the last two authors (DFG STE 938/10-2; FOR 1097). The authors thank Monique Beck, Maren Schlehe, Rebekka Aust, Alexander Makosch, Felix Sokoll, and Felicia Schuld for help with data collection and data preprocessing. The authors declare no conflicts of financial, personal, or other interests.
Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work: SK, APS, and MCS; substantial contribution to the acquisition and analysis of the data: SK, APS, and MCS; interpretation of data for the work: SK, APS, and MCS; drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content: SK, APS, and MCS; and final approval of the version to be published: SK, APS, and MCS.
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