Item Details

Accuracy and confidence in estimation of speaker age

Issue: Vol 27 No. 2 (2020)

Journal: International Journal of Speech Language and the Law

Subject Areas: Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/ijsll.39700


This article describes two experiments investigating listeners’ accuracy in estimation of speaker age as well as the listeners’ confidence that their estimates were correct. In Experiment 1, listeners made age estimates based on spontaneous speech. In Experiment 2, the estimates were based on read speech. The purpose of the study was to explore differences in accuracy and confidence depending on speech material, speaker characteristics (gender and age) and listener gender. Another purpose was to examine the realism in the listeners’ confidence ratings in estimations of spontaneous versus read speech. No differences in accuracy or confidence were found due to speech material type. Although accuracy was higher in estimates of male speakers, confidence was higher in estimates of female speakers, effects that were also dependent on speaker age. Possible acoustic and linguistic explanations behind the age and gender effects are discussed. As the correlation between confidence and accuracy was weak, it was concluded that confidence should not be relied on as an indicator of accuracy in estimation of speaker age.

Author: Sara Maria Birgitta Skoog Waller

View Original Web Page

References :

Braun, A. (1996). Age estimation by different listener groups. Forensic Linguistics, 3, 65–73. doi: 10.1558/ijsll.v3i1.65


Braun, A., & Cerrato, L. (1999). Estimating speaker age across languages. Proceedings of ICPhS, 99, 1369–1372.


Brewer, N., Keast, A., & Rishworth, A. (2002). The confidence-accuracy relationship in eyewitness identification: The effects of reflection and disconfirmation on correlation and calibration. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 8(1), 44. doi: 10.1037/1076-898X.8.1.44.


Brückl, M., & Sendlmeier, W. (2003). Aging female voices: An acoustic and perceptive analysis. Proceedings of VOQUAL’03, 163–168. Geneva.


Cerrato, L., Falcone, M., & Paoloni, A. (2000). Subjective age estimation of telephonic voices. Speech Communication, 31(2-3), 107–112. doi: 10.1016/S0167-6393(99)00071-0


Christie, F., & Bruce, V. (1998). The role of dynamic information in the recognition of unfamiliar faces. Memory & Cognition, 26(4), 780–790. doi: 10.3758/BF03211397


Coleman, R. O. (1976). A comparison of the contributions of two voice quality characteristics to the perception of maleness and femaleness in the voice. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 19(1), 168–180. doi: 10.1044/jshr.1901.168


Cutler, B. L., Penrod, S. D., & Dexter, H. R. (1990). Juror sensitivity to eyewitness identification evidence. Law and Human Behaviour, 14(2), 185–191. doi: 10.1007/BF01062972


Dehon, H., & Brédart, S. (2001). An ‘other-race’ effect in age estimation from faces. Perception, 30, 1107–1113. doi: 10.1068/p3122


Gnevsheva, K., & Bürkle, D. (2019). Age estimation in foreign-accented speech by native and non-native speakers. Language and Speech. doi: 10.1177/0023830919827621


Harnsberger, J. D., Shrivastav, R., Brown, W. S. Jr., Rothman, H., & Hollien, H. (2008). Speaking rate and fundamental frequency as speech cues to perceived age. Journal of Voice 22, 58–69.


Hartman, D. E. (1979). The perceptual identity and characteristics of aging in normal male adult speakers. Journal of Communication Disorders, 12(1), 53–61. doi: 10.1016/0021- 9924(79)90021-2


Hollien, H., & Tolhurst, G. (1978). The aging voice. In B. Weinberg (Ed.), Transcripts of the seventh symposium care of the professional voice, part II: Life span changes in the human voice (pp. 67–73). New York: Voice Foundation.


Hughes, S., & Rhodes, B. C. (2010). Making age assessments based on voice: The impact of the reproductive viability of the speaker. Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology, 4, 290–304. doi: 10.1037/h0099195


Huntley, R., Hollien, H., & Shipp, T. (1987). Influences of listener characteristics on perceived age estimations. Journal of Voice, 1(1), 49–52.


Juslin, P., Olsson, N., & Winman, A. (1996). Calibration and diagnosticity of confidence in eyewitness identification: Comments on what can be inferred from the low confidence–accuracy correlation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 22(5), 1304. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.22.5.1304


Krauss, R., Freyberg, R., & Morsella, E. (2002). Inferring speakers’ physical attributes from their voices. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 618–625. doi: 10.1016/S0022-1031(02)00510-3


Lindsay, D. S., Read, J. D., & Sharma, K. (1998). Accuracy and confidence in person identification: The relationship is strong when witnessing conditions vary widely. Psychological Science, 9(3), 215–218. doi: 10.1111/1467-9280.00041


Linville, S. E. (1996). The sound of senescence. Journal of Voice, 10(2), 190–200.


Linville, S. E. (2001). Vocal aging. San Diego, CA: Singular Thomson Learning.


Loftus, E. F. (2005). Planting misinformation in the human mind: A 30-year investigation of the malleability of memory. Learning & Memory, 12(4), 361–366. doi: 10.1101/lm.94705


MacLin, O. H., MacLin, M. K., & Malpass, R. S. (2001). Race, arousal, attention, exposure and delay: An examination of factors moderating face recognition. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7(1), 134.


McAllister, H. A., Dale, R. H., Bregman, N. J., McCabe, A., & Cotton, C. R. (1993). When eyewitnesses are also earwitnesses: Effects on visual and voice identifications. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 14(2), 161–170. doi: 10.1037/1076-8971.7.1.134


Moyse, E., Beaufort, A., & Brédart, S. (2014). Evidence for an own-age bias in age estimation from voices in older persons. European Journal of Ageing, 11(3), 241–247. doi: 10.1007/s10433-014-0305-0


Neiman, G. S., & Applegate, J. A. (1990). Accuracy of listener judgments of perceived age relative to chronological age in adults. Folia Phoniatrica, 42, 327–330. doi: 10.1159/000266090


Palmer, M. A., Brewer, N., Weber, N., & Nagesh, A. (2013). The confidence-accuracy relationship for eyewitness identification decisions: Effects of exposure duration, retention interval, and divided attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 19(1), 55. doi: 10.1037/a0031602.


Podesva, R. J., & Callier, P. (2015). Voice quality and identity. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 35, 173–194. doi: 10.1017/S0267190514000270


Poole, D. A., & White, L. T. (1993). Two years later: Effect of question repetition and retention interval on the eyewitness testimony of children and adults. Developmental Psychology, 29(5), 844. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.29.5.844


Porter, G. (2007). Visual culture in forensic science.


Ptacek, P. H., & Sander, E. K. (1966). Age recognition from voice. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 9(2), 273–277. doi: 10.1044/jshr.0902.273


Ramig, L. A., & Ringel, R. L. (1983). Effects of physiological aging on selected acoustic characteristics of voice. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 26(1), 22–30.


Sataloff, R. T., & Linville, S. E. (2005). The effects of age on the voice.


Schötz, S. (2004). The role of F0 and duration in perception of female and male speaker age. Proceedings of Speech Prosody, 379–382.


Schötz, S. (2006). Perception, analysis and synthesis of speaker age. Doctoral Thesis.


Shapiro, P. N., & Penrod, S. (1986). Meta-analysis of facial identification studies. Psychological Bulletin, 100(2), 139. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.100.2.139


Shipp, T., & Hollien, H. (1969). Perception of the aging male voice. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 12(4), 703–710. doi: 10.1044/jshr.1204.703


Shipp, T., Qi, Y., Huntley, R., & Hollien, H. (1992). Acoustic and temporal correlates of perceived age. Journal of Voice, 6(3), 211–216. doi: 10.1016/S0892-1997(05)80145-6


Skoog Waller, S., Eriksson, M., & Sörqvist, P. (2015). Can you hear my age? Influences of speech rate and speech spontaneity on estimation of speaker age. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 978. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00978


Skoog Waller, S., & Eriksson, M. (2016). Vocal age disguise: The role of fundamental frequency and speech rate and its perceived effects. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1814. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01814


Sporer, S. L., Penrod, S., Read, D., & Cutler, B. (1995). Choosing, confidence, and accuracy: A meta-analysis of the confidence-accuracy relation in eyewitness identification studies. Psychological Bulletin, 118(3), 315. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.118.3.315


Sörqvist, P., & Eriksson, M. (2007). Effects of training on age estimation. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21(1), 131–135. doi: 10.1002/acp.1271


Torre III, P., & Barlow, J. A. (2009). Age-related changes in acoustic characteristics of adult speech. Journal of Communication Disorders, 42(5), 324–333. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2009.03.001.


Tracy, K., & Robles, J. S. (2013). Everyday talk: Building and reflecting identities. Guilford Press.


Vestlund, J., Langeborg, L., Sörqvist, P., & Eriksson, M. (2009). Experts on age estimation. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 50(4), 301–307. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2009.00726.x


Voelke, M.C., Ebner, N.C., Lindenberger, U., & Riediger, M. (2012). Let me guess how old you are: Effects of age, gender, and facial expression on perception of age. Psychology and Ageing, 27, 265–277. doi: 10.1037/a0025065


Wells, G. L. (1978). Applied eyewitness-testimony research: System variables and estimator variables. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36(12), 1546. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.36.12.1546


Xue, S. A., Cheng, R. W. C., & Ng, L. M. (2010). Vocal tract dimensional development of adolescents: An acoustic reflection study. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 74(8), 907–912.


Yarmey, A. D. (1979). The psychology of eyewitness testimony. New York: Free Press.


Yarmey, A. D. (1995). Earwitness speaker identification. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 1(4), 792. doi: 10.1037/1076-8971.1.4.792