Volume 104, Issue 3, September 1998
Index of content:
- SPEECH PERCEPTION 
104(1998); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.424372View Description Hide Description
The validity of perceptual measures of vocal quality has been neglected in studies of voice, which focus more commonly on rater reliability. Validity depends in part on reliability, because an unreliable test does not measure what it is intended to measure. However, traditional measures of rating reliability only partially represent interrater agreement, because they cannot reflect variations or patterns of agreement for specific voice samples. In this paper the likelihood that two raters would agree in their ratings of a single voice is examined, for each voice in five previously gathered data sets. Results do not support the continued assumption that traditional rating procedures produce useful indices of listeners’ perceptions. Listeners agreed very poorly in the midrange of scales for breathiness and roughness, and mean ratings in the midrange of such scales did not represent the extent to which a voice possesses a quality, but served only to indicate that listeners disagreed. Techniques like analysis by synthesis or judgment of similarity avoid decomposing quality into constituent dimensions, and do not require a listener to compare an external stimulus to an unstable internal representation, thus decreasing the error in measures of quality. Modeling individual differences in perception can increase the variance accounted for in models of quality, further reducing the error in perceptual measures. Thus such techniques may provide valid alternatives to current approaches.