February 19, 2019

Now Available: First-Ever Interactive Audio Map of Nonverbal Vocal Communication

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.

[Clip]

Click on image to visit the online audio map, then move the cursor across map to hear exclamations linked to 24 emotions. Note that the audio works more slowly on mobile devices. (Graphic courtesy of Alan Cowen)

“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.

Learn More, Read the Complete UC Berkeley Report

Direct to Audio Map

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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