Research Article| Volume 33, ISSUE 5, P805.e21-805.e35, September 2019

Perceived Desirability of Vocal Fry Among Female Speech Communication Disorders Graduate Students


      Twenty-three female Speech Communication Disorders (SCD) graduate students rated the desirability of 25 adjectives used to describe perceived speaker's affect (including attitude, emotion, etc). A three-point weighted scale—desirable = 3, in-between = 2, and undesirable = 1—was used and a “desirability score” was calculated for each of these adjectives. Afterward, students were asked to use these adjectives to describe the perceived communication affect of female speakers with voices characterized by “vocal fry” as well as seven other vocal qualities (rough, breathy, strained, loud, high pitch, low pitch, and soft/weak). Proficiency of the students in identification of each of these eight voice qualities was determined before the survey. A desirability score for each voice quality, with a focus on vocal fry, was calculated by averaging the sum of the weighted counts for each adjective used to describe that vocal quality.


      Ten adjectives were rated as desirable (eg, cool), two were rated as in-between (eg, nonaggressive), and 13 were rated as undesirable (eg, vain). Thirty-two percent used only undesirable adjectives to describe vocal fry; 64% used a mixture of desirable, in-between, and undesirable; and 5% used only desirable adjectives and one in-between adjective. The relative order of the desirability scores of the vocal qualities was low pitch (2.13), high pitch (2.11), loud (1.89), vocal fry (1.82), breathy (1.77), soft/weak (1.68), rough (1.46), and strained (1.08). A vocal quality profile for each adjective was created. Vocal fry was the primary vocal quality associated with the adjectives vain (56%), apathetic/disinterested (48%), sleepy (38%), relaxed/chill (38%), and bored/unengaged (36%).


      SCD graduate student participants rated the desirability of 25 adjectives used to describe the perceived speaker's affect (including attitude, emotion, etc), and a “desirability score” was calculated for each. Afterward, they used these adjectives to describe the perceived communication affect of female speakers with voices characterized by vocal fry. Most participants were undecided, 30% perceived it as undesirable, and only 5% perceived it as desirable. The desirability scoring system and the adjectives used in this study add to the growing literature focusing on how different vocal qualities influence the listener's perception of the speaker's affect.

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