Welcome to the Projection of Identity (PRIDE) Laboratory
Welcome to the Projection of Identity (PRIDE) Lab, led by Dr. Brandon Merritt, assistant professor of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. The PRIDE Lab focuses on the acoustic-phonetic variability that differentiates speakers of diverse gender identities (e.g., agender, non-binary, transgender men and women, and cisgender men and women) and listeners' perception of this variability.
As listeners, we encounter a lot of variability in the speech signal. For instance, two people could say the same utterance, but say it in very different ways. A lot of the variability between speakers comes about because of characteristics of the speaker, what are called socio-indexical characteristics (like age, dialect, or gender).
A speaker's gender is one of the primary ways that listeners seem to organize speech. With all the variability that exists across different talkers, perceived gender helps us roughly categorize speakers and then make predictions about how they are going to speak. However, most research assumes that speakers and listeners represent only cisgender men and women (that is, individuals whose gender identity aligns with their assigned sex at birth).
Gender diversity, as an evolving social category, gives us an opportunity to examine how indexical meaning of speech variability is learned, interpreted, and represented in the minds of listeners.
The broad goals of the PRIDE Lab are to:
- Examine how gender identity and expression are constructed and communicated between speaker and listener
- Contribute to our understanding of the perceptual representation of speech
More specifically, we aim to:
- Understand how gender diversity is indexed in speech by both speakers and listeners
- Explore listener characteristics that may influence speaker gender perception
- Clarify specific speech features that are important for gender perception in a variety of speech contexts