UEL Baby Dev Lab

Vocal signals only impact speakers’ own emotions when they are self-attributed

Goupil, L., Johansson, P., Hall, L., & Aucouturier, J. J. 2021. Consciousness and Cognition

Emotions are often accompanied by vocalizations whose acoustic features provide information about the physiological state of the speaker. Here, we ask if perceiving these affective signals in one’s own voice has an impact on one’s own emotional state, and if it is necessary to identify these signals as self-originated for the emotional effect to occur. Participants had to deliberate out loud about how they would feel in various familiar emotional scenarios, while we covertly manipulated their voices in order to make them sound happy or sad. Perceiving the artificial affective signals in their own voice altered participants’ judgements about how they would feel in these situations. Crucially, this effect disappeared when participants detected the vocal manipulation, either explicitly or implicitly. The original valence of the scenarios also modulated the vocal feedback effect. These results highlight the role of the exteroception of self-attributed affective signals in the emergence of emotional feelings.