Prosody and cognition

REFERENCE:

G.6-Bandera-Unión-Europea

This research was supported by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme (FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IOF, 328636).

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

ICR

Institute for Communication Research, Indiana University, where this study was done. Thanks to Rob Potter,  Annie Lang and Joshua Davis Sites (the voice).

 

 

Special thanks to Pilar Prieto (coordinator of the project, UPF, Barcelona, Spain) and Jaime Vila and José Luis Mata. Human Psychophysiology Group. Granada University, Spain.

Project Description

One question that has long captured the interest of cognitive psychologists, media researchers and linguists is how the brain processes the mediated messages and, particularly, speech. The way in which a person says something can be as relevant as the content of the message; therefore, the study of how a listener processes media messages, analyzing some prosodic strategies, forms a substantial topic of research related to cognitive processing of speech. As prosody features of a message are a key factor when conveying contents on radio, the degree to which the broadcaster commands prosodic skills such as intonation, stress and speech rate may determine whether a discourse is conveyed sufficient effectively to ensure that the listener correctly processes the information.

This study explores the effect of different prosody strategies applied to audio commercials on the cognitive processing of the listener. Three within-subjects experiments were conducted in which participants listened to 16 different radio commercials (informative and narrative) created with different models of intonation, stress, and speech rate.

The methodology of this study was based on a multidimensional approach and, consequently, measured the cognitive effects of the prosody patterns through a triangulation method: psychophysiological measures combined with relevant self-reported data and memory tests.

Isaac Baltanás

The dependent variables in this study were perception measures: self-perception of effectiveness and adequacy; physiological measures to test attention, arousal, and emotion: skin conductance level (SCL), heart rate (HR), Facial EMG, and Eye Tracking; and cognitive measures to measure memory: immediate recall and recognition accuracy.In the first experiment, four intonation models of radio commercials were compared. Two of them were delivered with pitch variations (high-low and low-high models) and the other two homogeneously in either expanded pitch range (High) or compressed pitch range (Low). In the second experiment, four different models were tested: a model with no strategy, where all the words have more or less the same prominence; a model with 5 stressed words, a model with 10 and a model with 15 stressed words. In the third experiment, three models with different speech rates were analyzed: 160, 180 and 200 words per minute.

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In experiment 1 testing pitch level variations, results showed that the radio commercials presented with variations from high to low pitch achieved better levels in all the analyzed variables than the commercials with no pitch variations and variations from low to high pitch. In experiment 2 testing different stress strategies, results indicated that the radio commercials with 5 and 10 stressed words attained better levels than ads with no emphasized words and with 15 stressed words. In experiment 3 measuring different speech rates, the commercials at 180 wpm achieved the better results than ads at 160 and 200 wpm. 

Significance of the project

If we consider that a key goal of any public speaking communication is to maintain the attention of the listener and to understand the content of messages, it is clear that the results of this study may have significant repercussions for all the professionals related to speech. Hence, the conclusions may be of great interest for the study of public speaking and its relationship with persuasive communication in all their aspects. The findings may be applied to improve the processing of auditory messages complexity in media communication (audio in different platforms) and specifically in advertising and marketing. The results can be specifically applicable to media communication and advertising (radio, podcast, television and the Internet). The application of persuasive strategies to improve the effectiveness of advertisements is a key aspect in order to increase the sale of products or services. Other potential areas could benefit from the results: political communication, education activities, language learning, or speech synthesis. Last, the conclusions of this study can be applied to health care to improve the cognitive processing of individuals with attention or recall disorders, for example, elder or children with attention deficit.

Goals of the Project

The general aim of this project is to determine how different prosody strategies applied to a radio ads provoke an oriented response (OR) and increase the levels of attention and recall of the listener in order to enhance the cognitive processing of the listener.

THE FIRST SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE of this study is to establish how different pitch level variations applied to radio ads with different text strategy (informative and narrative) may influence the cognitive processing by provoking an orientating response (OR) and modifying the attention and recall of the listener.

THE SECOND SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE is to determine how different stress strategies applied to radio ads with different text strategy (informative and narrative) may influence the cognitive processing by provoking an orientating response (OR) and modifying the attention and recall of the listener.

THE THIRD SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE is to analyze how different speech rates applied to radio ads with different text strategy (informative and narrative) may influence the cognitive processing by provoking an orientating response (OR) and modifying the attention and recall of the listener.

Main Results

PRELIMINARY RESULTS

EXPERIMENT 1: PITCH LEVEL

This study explores the effect of different intonation strategies applied to audio messages on the cognitive processing of the listener. A within-subjects experiment was conducted in which participants listened to 16 radio commercials created with different models of intonation designed to vary the announcer’s pitch range across the sentence. Dependent variables were self-reported effectiveness and adequacy, psychophysiological arousal and attention, immediate word recall and sentence recognition. Results showed that radio ads with pitch variations from High to Low pitch achieved better effectiveness, adequacy, recall and recognition, elicited greater sympathetic nervous system activation and better recognition accuracy than the ads with no pitch variations or variations from Low to High pitch.

EXPERIMENT 2: STRESS

This study explores the effect of different stress strategies applied to audio commercials on the cognitive processing of the listener. A within-subjects experiment was conducted in which participants listened to 16 radio commercials varying the stress strategy. Results showed that radio commercials presented with moderate stress (5 or 10 words) achieved better effectiveness, adequacy, recall and recognition, elicited greater sympathetic nervous system activation and less heart rate than the commercials with no stress strategy or with many stressed words (15 in each message).

EXPERIMENT 3: SPEECH RATE

This study explores the effect of different speech rates applied to audio commercials on the cognitive processing of the listener. A within-subjects experiment was conducted in which participants listened to 16 radio commercials varying the speech rate: 160, 180, and 200 words per minute. Results showed that radio commercials presented with a moderate speech rate, 180 wpm, achieved better effectiveness, adequacy, recall and recognition, elicited greater sympathetic nervous system activation and less heart rate than the commercials at 160 and 200 wpm.

Additional Information

-Rodero, E. (2015). Pitch Variations to Stimulate your Memory. How Pitch Variations can Improve Effectiveness, and Memory of an Audio Message. Fourth Annual Nonverbal Behaviour Preconference.  Society for Personality and Social Psychology of America, Long Beach, USA.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280568654_Pitch_Variations_to_Stimulate_your_Memory._How_Pitch_Variations_can_Improve_Effectiveness_and_Memory_of_an_Audio_Message

-Rodero, E. & Potter, R. (2015). Melodic variations to stimulate your attention. Communication across the life span. 65th ICA Annual Conference, Puerto Rico, USA.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280568466_Melodic_variations_to_stimulate_your_attention

-Rodero, E. (2016). Elementos prosóficos para mejorar la memoria en la publicidad radiofónica. Tesis doctoral, UAB, Barcelona, Spain. http://www.tdx.cat/bitstream/handle/10803/385104/era1de1.pdf?sequence=1

-Rodero, E. (2016). Intonation, stress and speech rate to stimulate your attention and memory. Group of Studies in Prosody, UPF, February.

-Rodero, E. (2016). Tell me how you speak and I tell you how I feel. Radiodays Europe Conference, Paris, March.

-Rodero, E. (2016). The secrets of intonation. Voice over Atlanta Conference, March.

-Rodero, E. (2016). How to speak in a radio commercial. Advertising Radio Awards, Amsterdam, June.

-Rodero, E.; Larrea, O.; Mas, Ll. (2015). Media Psychology: a new discipline to understand media processes. Research Methodologies National Conference, Malaga University, Spain.

-Rodero, E. (2015). Stress variations to stimulate your attention and memory.  55th Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR), Seattle, USA.

© 2014, Emma Rodero