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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Commun. | doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2020.600361

Age- and gender-related differences in speech alignment toward humans and voice-AI Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

 Georgia Zellou1*,  Michelle Cohn1 and Bruno Ferenc Segedin1
  • 1University of California, Davis, United States

Speech alignment is where talkers subconsciously adopt the speech and language patterns of their interlocutor. Nowadays, people of all ages are speaking with voice-activated, artificially-intelligent (voice-AI) digital assistants through phones or smart speakers. This study examines participants’ age (older adults, 53-81 years old vs. younger adults, 18-39 years old) and gender (female and male) on degree of speech alignment during shadowing of (female and male) human and voice-AI (Apple’s Siri) productions. Degree of alignment was assessed holistically via a perceptual ratings AXB task by a separate group of listeners. Results reveal that older and younger adults display distinct patterns of alignment based on humanness and gender of the human model talkers: older adults displayed greater alignment toward the female human and device voices, while younger adults aligned to a greater extent toward the male human voice. Additionally, there were other gender-mediated differences observed, all of which interacted with model talker category (voice-AI vs. human) or shadower age category (OA vs. YA). Taken together, these results suggest a complex interplay of social dynamics in alignment, which can inform models of speech production both in human-human and human-device interaction.

Keywords: voice-AI, human-device interaction, speaker age, Speaker gender, Speech alignment

Received: 29 Aug 2020; Accepted: 21 Dec 2020.

Copyright: © 2020 Zellou, Cohn and Ferenc Segedin. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Georgia Zellou, University of California, Davis, Davis, United States, gzellou@ucdavis.edu