Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Volume 33 Issue 2 (March 2019), Pages 149-322

Forensic voice discrimination by lay listeners: The effect of speech type and background noise on performance (pages 272-287)

Summary In forensic settings, lay (nonexpert) listeners may be required to compare voice samples for identity. In two experiments we investigated the effect of background noise and variations in speaking style on performance. In each trial, participants heard two recordings, responded whether the voices belonged to the same person, and provided a confidence rating. In Experiment 1, the first recording featured read speech and the second featured read or spontaneous speech. Both recordings were presented in quiet, or with background noise. Accuracy was highest when recordings featured the same speaking style. In Experiment 2, background noise either occurred in the first or second recording. Accuracy was higher when it occurred in the second. The overall results reveal that both speaking style and background noise can disrupt accuracy. Although there is a relationship between confidence and accuracy in all conditions, it is variable. The forensic implications of these findings are discussed.

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