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Traditionally, emotion recognition research has primarily used pictures and videos while audio test materials have received less attention and are not always readily available. Particularly for testing vocal emotion recognition in hearing-impaired listeners, the audio quality of assessment materials may becrucial. Here, we present a vocal emotion recognition test with non-language specific pseudospeech productions of multiple speakers expressing three core emotions (happy, angry, and sad): the EmoHI test. Recorded with high sound quality, the test is suitable to use with populations of children and adults with normal or impaired hearing, and across different languages. In the present study, we obtained normative data for vocal emotion recognition development in normal-hearing school-age (4-12 years) children using the EmoHI test. In addition, we tested Dutch and English children to investigate cross-language effects. Our results show that children’s emotion recognition accuracy scores improved significantly with age from the youngest group tested on (mean accuracy 4-6 years: 48.9%), but children’s performance did not reach adult-like values (mean accuracy adults: 94.1%) even for the oldest age group tested (mean accuracy 10-12 years: 81.1%). Furthermore, the effect of age on children’s development did not differ across languages. The strong but slow development in children’s ability to recognize vocal emotions emphasizes the role of auditory experience in forming robust representations of vocal emotions. The wide range of age-related performances that are captured and the lack of significant differences across the tested languages affirm the usability and versatility of the EmoHI test.
This is intended for the second international workshop on Vocal Interactivity in-and-between Humans, Animals and Robots (VIHAR 2019) collection.