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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Are we reliable earwitnesses? Imagine a telephone call in which all you hear is the single word ‘Hello … ?’. From that single word you can tell a considerable amount about the caller. You can tell their gender and their likely age range. You can detect a rising intonation that indicates uncertainty or a question. You can discern their accent and thus perhaps their nationality. Last, but most important, you perhaps can tell their identity. Voice perception is a highly sophisticated ability, drawing on numerous characteristics of the voice signal and yielding numerous judgements or estimations about the speaker. This chapter focuses on the reliability of those voice-perception abilities, with the express purpose of being able to establish our capacity as earwitnesses. Across this chapter, the latest scientific findings will be reviewed, allowing identification of the decisions that earwitnesses will be good at, and the decisions that may be less reliable.

Keywords: voice recognition, earwitness memory, earwitness testimony, voice identification, vocal disguise, forensics

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