Engineering 101

Can You Recognize a Liar From the Sound of Their Voice?

We would all like to think we know when someone is lying to us—but do we? Faster speech rate, greater intensity in the middle of the word, and falling pitch at the end of the word: that is the prosody (think melody) to use if you want to come across as reliable and honest.

Scientists from the Science and Technology for Music and Sound laboratory (CNRS/Ircam/Sorbonne Université/Ministère de la Culture) and the Perceptual Systems Laboratory (CNRS/ENS PSL) conducted a series of experiments to understand how we decide, based on voice, whether a speaker is honest and confident, or dishonest and uncertain.

This signature is perceived similarly in a number of languages (French, English, Spanish), and that it is registered “automatically” by the brain. Prosody conveys information on the truth-value or certainty of a proposition. Scientists are now moving to how speakers produce such prosody based on their intentions. This research was published in Nature Communications.

Examples of these sounds are available from Alexiane Agullo: [email protected]

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