Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education

Committee Chair(s)

Stephanie Borrie


Stephanie Borrie


Kim Corbin-Lewis


Cindy Dewey


Objective: There is little consensus about how the use of the voice quality feature, vocal fry, in the speech of college-aged American women influences listener judgements of the speaker. This study investigates how vocal fry influences the judgement of speaker intelligence and likeability in this population, while taking into account the surrounding acoustic-prosodic context, specifically speech rate and voice pitch.

Method: Speech samples were obtained from eight American English speaking females who presented with different combinations of voice pitch (low or high), speech rate (slow or fast), and vocal fry (presence or absence). Listener judgements from 463 adults (262 males; 201 females) regarding ratings of speaker intelligence and likeability were collected via online crowdsourcing.

Results: Generalized estimating equation models revealed significant three-way interactions between the vocal features of voice pitch, speech rate, and vocal fry for listener judgments of speaker intelligence and likeability. While vocal fry had favorable effects in some contexts (e.g., high pitch, fast rate) it appeared to have detrimental effects in others (e.g., low pitch, fast rate).

Conclusion: Listener judgements of young American woman based on information afforded in their speech behaviors are not solely based on the presence or absence of vocal fry, but rather a combination of features which interact with one another in unique ways. Thus, whether or not vocal fry projects a favorable impression in this population depends on the surrounding acoustic-prosodic context.