Interactions of visual and auditory information in social perception related to gender and ethnicity (2012-2015)

M. C. Steffens, T. Rakíc, and A.P. Simpson

Research in this project tests social perception, categorization, and impression formation related to gender and ethnicity, using complex and ecologically valid stimuli that go beyond the presentation of labels or photographs only. The first aim is to follow up on key findings from the first funding period. Series of experiments will test with experimental paradigms, supplemented by ERPs, the conditions under which expectancy violations determine impressions of speakers with dialects or foreign accents. The second aim is based on the idea that changeable information may be diagnostic and thus used for social categorization when crossed with ethnicity and gender information (e.g., wearing headscarves or ethnically-associated hats; powerful/powerless speech). The third aim represents an extension of our current work to a new area. In a cooperation between psychology and phonetics, we will critically examine the finding that information about individuals’ sexual orientation is manifest in phonetic speech characteristics. The relevant speech markers in German speech will be extracted (which will be an extension of existing findings from Anglo-Saxon speakers); they will be related to variables pertaining to speakers’ gender role orientation and respective social-group identification; and to the perception of sexual orientation in voices and voice-face stimuli. The ultimate aim of this project in relation to the entire Research Unit is contributing to the elaboration of person perception models with regard to the early integration of social-category information from different modalities.