From UC Berkeley News:
Ooh, surprise! Those spontaneous sounds we make to express everything from elation (woohoo) to embarrassment (oops) say a lot more about what we’re feeling than previously understood, according to new UC Berkeley research.
Proving that a sigh is not just a sigh, scientists conducted a statistical analysis of listener responses to more than 2,000 nonverbal exclamations known as “vocal bursts” and found they convey at least 24 kinds of emotion. Previous studies of vocal bursts set the number of recognizable emotions closer to 13.
The results, recently published online in the American Psychologist journal, are demonstrated in vivid sound and color on the first-ever interactive audio map of nonverbal vocal communication.
“Our findings show that the voice is a much more powerful tool for expressing emotion than previously assumed,” said study lead author Alan Cowen, a Ph.D. student in psychology at UC Berkeley.
On Cowen’s audio map, one can slide one’s cursor across the emotional topography and hover over fear (scream), then surprise (gasp), then awe (woah), realization (ohhh), interest (ah?) and finally confusion (huh?).
Among other applications, the map can be used to help teach voice-controlled digital assistants and other robotic devices to better recognize human emotions based on the sounds we make, he said.
Direct to Audio Map