4th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Philadelphia, PA, USA
October 3-6, 1996

Ethological Theory and the Expression of Emotion in the Voice

John J. Ohala

Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

A useful source for unifying theories guiding research on the expression of emotions by the voice as well as by accompanying visual gestures (kinesics) is provided by ethology, the science devoted to the comparative study of behavior. Ethology, examining human and non-human behavior, maintains that much of behavior is shaped by phylogenetic adaptations. In this paper I will review and present evidence relevant to some of the fundamental theoretical issues addressed by ethology: Does a signal of emotion reflect the inner (psycho)physiological state of the signaler or is it rather primarily designed to induce in receivers behavior that benefits the signaler? Are there cross-cultural and cross-species similarities in emotional signals? Are the separate components of emotional signals, e.g., voice quality, F0, as well as kinesic elements like eyebrow level, independent of each other or are they correlated in a way to mutually enhance the conveyance of a given message? What is the basic vocabulary of emotions? How many are there?

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Ohala, John J. (1996): "Ethological theory and the expression of emotion in the voice", In ICSLP-1996, 1812-1815.