Decoding of Baby Calls: Can Adult Humans Identify the Eliciting Situation from Emotional Vocalizations of Preverbal Infants?
|Vědecké publikace impaktované
Preverbal infants often vocalize in emotionally loaded situations, yet the communicative potential of these vocalizations is not well understood. The aim of our study was to assess how accurately adult listeners extract information about the eliciting situation from infant preverbal vocalizations. Vocalizations of 19 infants aged 5-10 months were recorded in 3 negative (Pain, Isolation, Demand for Food) and 3 positive (Play, Reunion, After Feeding) situations. The recordings were later rated by 333 adult listeners on the scales of emotional valence and intensity. Subsequently, the listeners assigned the eliciting situations in a forced choice task. Listeners were almost perfectly able to discriminate whether a recording came from a negative or a positive situation. Their discrimination may have been based on perceived valence as they consistently assigned higher valence when listening to positive, and lower valence when listening to negative, recordings. Ability to identify the particular situation within the negative or positive realm was substantially weaker, with only three of the six situations being discriminated above chance. The best discriminated situation, Play, was associated with high perceived intensity. The weak qualitative discrimination of negative situations seemed to be based on graded perception of negative recordings, from the most intense and unpleasant (assigned to Pain) to the least intense and least unpleasant (assigned to Demand for Food). Parenthood and younger age, but not gender of listeners, had weak positive effects on the accuracy of judgments. Our results indicate that adults almost flawlessly distinguish positive and negative infant sounds, but are rather inaccurate regarding identification of the specific needs of the infant and may normally employ other sensory channels to gain this information.
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