Tue-1-9-2 Individual variation in language attitudes toward voice-AI: The role of listeners’ autistic-like traits

Michelle Cohn(University of California, Davis), Melina Sarian(UC Davis), Kristin Predeck(UC Davis) and Georgia Zellou(UC Davis)
Abstract: More and more, humans are engaging with voice-activated artificially intelligent (voice-AI) systems that have names (e.g., Alexa), apparent genders, and even emotional expression; they are in many ways a growing ‘social’ presence. But to what extent do people display sociolinguistic attitudes, developed from human-human interaction, toward these disembodied text-to-speech (TTS) voices? And how might they vary based on the cognitive traits of the individual user? The current study addresses these questions, testing native English speakers’ judgments for 6 traits (intelligent, likeable, attractive, professional, human-like, and age) for a naturally-produced female human voice and the US-English default Amazon Alexa voice. Following exposure to the voices, participants completed these ratings for each speaker, as well as the Autism Quotient (AQ) survey, to assess individual differences in cognitive processing style. Results show differences in individuals’ ratings of the likeability and human-likeness of the human and AI talkers based on AQ score. Results suggest that humans transfer social assessment of human voices to voice-AI, but that the way they do so is mediated by their own cognitive characteristics.
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