Volume 46, Issue 1 (January 2001)
Production of Intoxication States by Actors—Acoustic and Temporal Characteristics
This paper is the second of a series; the first has been published (J Forensic Sci, 1998;43:1153–62). The goal in the initial pair of experiments was to determine if speakers (actors) could effectively mimic the speech of intoxicated individuals and also volitionally reduce the degradation to their speech that resulted from severe inebriation. To this end, two highly controlled experiments involving 12 actor-speakers were carried out. It was found that, even when sober, nearly all of them were judged drunker (when pretending) than when they actually were severely intoxicated. In the second experiment, they tried to sound sober when highly intoxicated; here most were judged less inebriated than they were. The goal of this second paper is to identify some of the speech characteristics that allowed the subjects to achieve the cited illusions. The focus here is on four paralinguistic factors: fundamental frequency (F0), speaking rate, vocal intensity, and nonfluency level. For the simulation of intoxication study, it was found that F0 was raised along with increased intoxication but raised even more when this state was feigned. A slowing of speaking rate was associated with increasing intoxication, but this shift also was greater when the speaker simulated intoxication. The most striking contrast was found for the nonfluencies; they were doubled for actual intoxication, but quadrupled when intoxication was simulated. On the other hand, the shifts exhibited by the subjects when they attempted to sound sober were not as clear cut. Indeed, no systematic relationships were found here for either F0 or vocal intensity. Both speaking rate and the number of nonfluencies shifted appropriately, but these changes were not statistically significant. In sum, discernable suprasegmental relationships occurred for both studies (but especially the first); further, it is predicted that useful cues also will be found embedded in the segmentals (the sounds of speech).