InterSpeech 2021

In-group advantage in the perception of emotions: Evidence from three varieties of German
(3 minutes introduction)

Moritz Jakob (Universität Konstanz, Germany), Bettina Braun (Universität Konstanz, Germany), Katharina Zahner-Ritter (Universität Trier, Germany)
Various studies on the perception of vocally expressed emotions have shown that recognition rates are higher if speaker and listener belong to the same cultural or linguistic group. This so-called in-group advantage is commonly attributed to prosodic differences in the expression of emotion across groups. Evidence comes mostly from using cross-linguistic and/or cross-cultural study designs. Previous research suggests that varieties of German differ in their use of prosody and can be discriminated based on prosodic features alone. In this paper, we tested whether emotion recognition rates differ across varieties of German: Listeners from three dialectal areas (Hamburg, Vienna, Zurich) identified emotions on semantically neutral sentences (choosing between anger, happiness, relief, surprise or “other”), spoken by actors from the three regions. Correctness rates show that emotions are recognized better if speakers and listeners are native speakers of the same variety. However, further analyses suggest that the in-group advantage does not surface consistently across individual emotions. To explain these results, the prosodic realization of the sentences was tested for interactions between emotion and variety. Here, intensity seemed to differ most across varieties and emotions. Importantly, we show that the in-group advantage extends from cultural groups to dialectal groups of a language.