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LINGUIST List 19.1267

Mon Apr 14 2008

Diss: Forensic Ling/Phonetics/Socioling: Fadden: 'Prosodic Profiles...'

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        1.    Lorna Fadden, Prosodic Profiles: Suspects' speech during police interviews

Message 1: Prosodic Profiles: Suspects' speech during police interviews
Date: 14-Apr-2008
From: Lorna Fadden <faddensfu.ca>
Subject: Prosodic Profiles: Suspects' speech during police interviews
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Institution: Simon Fraser University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Lorna Fadden

Dissertation Title: Prosodic Profiles: Suspects' speech during police interviews

Linguistic Field(s): Forensic Linguistics

Dissertation Director:
Nancy Hedberg
Sosa Juan
Murray Munro

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation presents a descriptive study of the prosodic
characteristics of suspects' speech during investigative interviews with
police. During police interviews, investigators direct conversation by
asking suspects questions and making assertions thereby placing the suspect
in the position of responding. Based on whether the suspect is a first-time
or repeat offender, and the type of information suspects produce, responses
are categorized and examined for their properties of pause, tempo, and pitch.

Response types explored in this study are affirmative, in which suspects
confirm information in the investigators' questions or assertions;
negative, in which information is rejected; relevant and irrelevant, in
which suspects offer information pertaining or not pertaining to the
investigators' questions; and confessions. Pausal features - response
latency, and pause-to-speech ratio - are found to differ across certain
response types in both groups. In general, for example, first time suspects
pause more than repeat offenders, both before and during turns,
particularly when offering relevant responses. Among the temporal features,
first-time suspects' speech and articulation rates are lower when producing
relevant information than repeat offenders' rates. Furthermore, first
timers' irrelevant temporal rates are higher than relevant temporal rates.
Pitch characteristics show less distinction across response types than
pause and tempo, although first time suspects' pitch values cluster
somewhat more neatly within response types than repeat offenders', whose
pitch values vary more widely.

The findings noted above are discussed in relation to previous studies that
address the prosodic characteristics of discourse and emotion. Furthermore,
on the basis of these findings, prosodic profiles of response categories
for first time offenders and repeat offenders are created. The potential
for forensic application of these profiles is discussed, particularly with
respect to deception.

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