Thursday, 26 November 2015

Study-Words can Deceive, But Tone of Voice Cannot


Computer System Can Predict – Improved/Worsened Relationship

New Computer system can now predict if you and your spouse would be having an improved or worsened relationship centred on the tone of voice which one may use while speaking to each other with an accuracy of almost 79%. The system, in fact had done a better job of predicting marital success of couples with serious matrimonial issues than description of the therapy sessions that were provided by relationship experts which were reported in a study on September 6, 2015, in Proceedings of Interspeech.

Hundreds of conversations from more than one hundred couples have been recorded by researchers that were taken at the time of marriage therapy session over two years and later tracked their marital status for five years.

Led by Shrikanth Narayanan and Panayiotis Georgiou of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, an interdisciplinary team, together with doctoral student Md Nasir and collaborator Brian Baucom of University of Utah, created a system which broke the recordings into acoustic features utilising speech-processing technique. These comprised of pitch, intensity, `jitter’ as well as shimmer besides several other things like tracking warbles in the voice which could specify moments of high emotion.

Voice Acoustic Features

Nasir mentioned that `what one says is not the only that tends to matter, it is very essential how it is said. The study confirms that it holds for a relationship of couple also’. The voice acoustic features takentogether provided the team’s program, a substitute for the subject’s communicative state and the changes to the state over the course of an individual therapy as well as across therapy sessions.

Significantly, the features were not scrutinized in isolation but the effect of one partner on the other and longitudinally over various therapy sessions was considered. Narayanan commented that it was not around studying the emotions but it was about studying the effect of what the partners says on one’s emotions.

Georgiou stated that looking at one instance on the behaviour of a couple limits their observational power. But observing at numerous points of time and looking at both individuals as well as the dynamics of dyad could be helpful in identifying courses of their relationship. At times it could for the best or at times they could be heading towards deterioration of relationship.

Behavioural Codes – Positive - Acceptance/Negative – Blame

Controlling of such method is to aid in identifying how domain experts could advise couples in a better manner in improving relationships, according to Georgiou. Baucom on his part commented that psychological practitioners as well as researchers have known for long that the way partners tend to talk and discuss issues has important implication with regards to the health of their relationships.

 But the absence of efficient and reliable tools for measuring important elements in those conversations seems to be a major impediment in their widespread clinical use. The findings signified a main step forward in making objective measurement of behaviour practical as well as feasible for couple therapists. Once it was modified, the program was later tested against behavioural analysis made by human experts who had studied the couples, behavioural codes namely, the positive qualities such as acceptance or negative qualities like blame.

Moreover the team also observed that studying voice directly instead of the expert created behavioural codes provided a much accurate sight on the future of the couple. Thereafter utilising behavioural signal procedure, a framework to understand human behavioural computationally, the team intends to use language, for instance spoken words and nonverbal information like body language in cultivating the prediction of how effective would the treatment be.

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