Recognition and discrimination of unfamiliar male and female voices

Antonio L Manzanero, Susana Barón


The aim of this study was examined the ability to identify voices of unfamiliar people. In experiment 1, participants performed tried to recognize the voice of unfamiliar man or woman. Results showed that subjects generally matched 83.11% when the target voice was present and made 56.45% false alarms when it was not. Discrimination was different from chance and subjects used liberal response criteria. In experiment 2, men and women tried to identify the same voices of men and women as in previous experiment. Between stimulus presentation and the recognition task, subjects listened instrumental music for 2.38 minutes, with the aim of making it harder that the voice remain active in working memory. Results showed that ability of men and women to identify an unfamiliar voice was null, in both cases with liberal response criterion. Men matched 12.06%, with 65.51% false alarms, and women 25.80% and 56.45% respectively. There was no differences in the ability to identify male and female voices, although women tend to choose more than men, even when no target voice was present.

Texto completo:



Bull, R., & Clifford, B. R. (1984). Earwitness voice recognition accuracy. In G. L. Wells & E. F. Loftus (Eds.), Eyewitness testimony: Psychological perspectives (pp. 92-123). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Campanella, S., & Belin, P. (2007). Integrating face and voice in person perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11(12), 535-543.

Carterette, E. C., & Barneby, A. (1975). Recognition memory for voices. In E. Cohen y G. Nottebohn (Eds.), Structure and processes in speech perception (pp. 246-265). New York: Springer.

Kerstholt, J. H., Jansen, N. J. M., Van Amelsvoort, A. G., & Breeders, A. P. A. (2004). Earwitnesses: Effects of speech duration, retention interval and acoustic environment. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18, 327–336.

Kerstholt, J. H., Jansen, N. J. M., Van Amelsvoort, A. G., & Breeders, A. P. A. (2006). Earwitnesses: Effects of accent, retention and telephone. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 187-197.

Legge, G. E., Grosmann, C., & Pieper, C. M. (1984). Learning unfamiliar voices. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 10, 298-303.

McGehee, F. (1937). The reliability of the identification of the human voice. Journal of General Psychology, 27, 249-271.

Philippon, A., Cherryman, J., Bull, R., & Vrij, A. (2007). Lay people's and police officers' attitudes towards the usefulness of perpetrator voice identification. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21, 103-115.

Schirmer, A., Zysset, S., Kotz, S. A., & von Cramon, D. Y. (2004). Gender differences in the activation of inferior frontal cortex during emotional speech perception. Neuroimage, 21(3), 1114-1123.

Sokhi, D. S., Hunter, M. D., Wilkinson, I. D., & Woodruff, P. W. R. (2005). Male and female voices activate distinct regions in the male brain. Neuroimage, 27, 572–578

Wilding, J., & Cook, S. (2000). Sex differences and individual consistency in voice identification. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 91, 535–538.

Yarmey, A. D. (1991a). Voice identification over the telephone. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21, 1868–1876.

Yarmey, A. D. (1991b). Descriptions of distinctive and non-distinctive voices over time. Journal of the Forensic Science Society, 31, 421–428.

Yarmey, A. D. (1994). Earwitness evidence: Memory for a perpetrator’s voice. In D. F. Ross, J. D. Read & M.P. Toglia (Eds.), Adult eyewitness testimony: Current trends and developments (pp. 101-124). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Yarmey, A. D. (2001). Earwitness descriptions and speaker identification. Forensic Linguistics, 8, 113–122.

Yarmey, A. D. (2003). Earwitness identification over the telephone and in field settings. The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 10, 62-74.

Yarmey, A. D. (2007). The psychology of speaker identification and earwitness memory. In R. C. L. Lindsay, D. F. Ross, J. D Read, & M. P. Toglia (Eds.), The handbook of eyewitness psychology, Vol II: Memory for people (pp. 101-136). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Yarmey, A. D., & Matthys, E. (1992). Voice identification of an abductor. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 6, 367–377.

Yarmey, A. D., Yarmey, A. L., Yarmey, M. J., & Parliament, L. (2001). Commonsense beliefs and the identification of familiar voices. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 15, 183-299.