Behavior: A Sound Theory

After listening carefully to tape recordings, 40 men and women students at West Virginia University tried to estimate the height and weight of each of the 30 speakers on the tape. To the delight of Norman J. Lass, who ran the experiment as chairman of the university's speech pathology and audiology department, those estimates were surprisingly accurate. On the average, the volunteer students came within 3½ lbs. and 1 in. of picking the weight and height of the speakers—far closer than they would have achieved with random guesses. "Apparently," says Lass, "there are adequate perceptual clues in the voice, which reflect,...

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