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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 21  |  Page : 39--50

The use of male or female voices in warnings systems : A question of acoustics

Department of Psychology, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
J Edworthy
Department of Psychology, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AA
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 14965452

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Speech warnings and communication systems are increasingly used in noisy, high workload environments. An important decision in the development of such systems is the choice of a male or a female speaker. There is little objective evidence to support this decision, although there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings on this topic. This paper suggests that both acoustic and non-acoustic differences (such as social attributions towards speakers of different sexes) between male and female speakers is negligible, therefore the choice of speaker should depend on the overlap of noise and speech spectra. Female voices do however appear to have an advantage in that they can portray a greater range of urgencies because of their usually higher pitch and pitch range. An experiment is reported showing that knowledge about the sex of a speaker has no effect on judgements of perceived urgency, with acoustic variables accounting for such differences.


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