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Evénement No. 1906

A little straight vs. very straight: The interaction of phonetic cues and gradient sexual orientation in social perception

Type :

séminaire LPL

Auteur :

LeAnn Brown

Affiliation :


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LPL, bât. B, salle des conférences B011, 5 avenue Pasteur, Aix-en-Provence

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entrée libre

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Présentation :

Résumé :

Previous sociophonetic research on the perception of sexual orientation has explored the categorization of speakers based on macro level subcategories such as straight, gay, and lesbian (Munson, McDonald, DeBoe, & White, 2006b; Rendall, Vasey & McKenzie, 2008; Pharao, Maegaard, Moller, & Kristiansen, 2014). A more fine-grained approach to such subcategories is largely unattested. Yet, scalar descriptions of sexual orientation subcategories validated by Google search results (e.g., book title: Just a little straight and parody fansite title: Elijah Wood is very, very gay) suggest that "gayness", "lesbianness" and "straightness" can be perceived gradiently. Using three-point sexual orientation ratings (SOR) to capture a more nuanced view of sexual orientation, one research objective of the present study is to explore the acoustic cues that are indexed with voices perceived to be a little straight/gay/lesbian vs. very straight/gay/lesbian, rather than focus on perceived straight vs. gay/lesbian differences. An additional objective is to explore the social perceptions of Friendliness and categorical gender prototypicality, which are expected to be correlated with or be predicted by SOR. This more holistic understanding of social categories, including their relationship to ideologically related stereotypes and prototypes, can potentially contribute to our understanding of category acquisition.

Sixty-five Canadian English native speaker participants listened to synthesized syllabic stimuli, then determined speaker gender and sexual orientation (binary forced choice), and quantified gender prototypicality and how gay, lesbian or straight speakers were perceived to sound (SOR).
SOR results are broadly as predicted for all the sexual orientation categories, but differ greatly from Perceived Sexual Orientation categorical results and Gender Prototypicality ordinal results in terms of significant main effects and interactions. This supports that SOR is based on different phonetic cues than those used to assess sexual orientation or gender typicality.

Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) analyses for Friendliness (Friendly vs. Reserved) indicate that there are significant interactions of SOR and sexual orientation for Perceived Women and Men. There is no effect of SOR for Perceived Lesbian speakers, who overall are not perceived to be as friendly as their straight counterparts are. There is an effect of SOR for Perceived Straight Women: speakers assessed as sounding very straight have a higher mean for Friendliness than do a moderately or a little Straight or Lesbian sounding women. The Perceived Straight Men's Friendliness mean is significantly higher when speakers are perceived to be very straight vs. moderately straight sounding. In contrast, for Perceived Gay Men's voices SOR significantly affects all the pairwise comparisons: The higher the SOR, the higher the Friendliness mean. Overall, Perceived Straight Men have to sound very straight to be perceived just as friendly as Perceived Gay Men who sound a little gay. The results support that gender stereotypes are the bases for listener assessments: Straight men and lesbian women have higher Reserved means.

Finally, a GEE analysis was conducted with Gender Prototypicality recoded as a categorical binary response. There were significant main effects of the predictors (sexual orientation and SOR) for Perceived Women and Men as well as significant interactions of SOR x sexual orientation. For both datasets, SOR ratings positively correlate with gender but only if the speakers are perceived to be straight. There is no effect of SOR on Gender Prototypicality if speakers are perceived to be lesbian women or gay men. That is, speakers perceived to be gay or lesbian, no matter how they are assessed in terms of SOR, are assessed to be less gender prototypical than are speakers perceived to be straight.

Programme :

Références :

Munson, B., McDonald, E. C., DeBoe, N. L., & White, A. R. (2006b). The acoustic and
perceptual bases of judgments of women and men's sexual orientation from read speech. Journal of Phonetics 34(4), 202-240.

Pharao, N., Maegaard, M., Moller, J. S., & Kristiansen, T. (2014). Indexical meanings of [s+] among Copenhagen youth: Social perception of a phonetic variant in different prosodic context. Language in Society 43, 1-31.

Rendall, D., Vasey, P. L., & McKenzie, J. (2008). The queen's English: An alternative, biosocial hypothesis for the distinctive features of "gay speech". Archives of Sexual Behavior 37, 188-204.

Smyth, R., Jacobs, G., & Rogers, H. (2003). Male voices and perceived sexual orientation: an experiential and theoretical approach. Language in Society 32, 329-350.

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