Was that the voice of the perpetrator?

Have you watched the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode in which they discover the perpetrator of a crime by hearing their voice singing a nice rendition of “I want it that way” by the Backstreet Boys? No? Then quickly watch it before reading the rest.

Situations like this can also happen in real life, in which you don’t see the perpetrator but only hear them. Do you think you’d recognize their voice in a different setting? This can be really difficult, because you probably heard their voice in a stressful, angry or anxious situation. There is a big chance the perpetrator is in a different mood in the line-up then during the crime (go figure!). So what we are interested in is figuring out if it makes a difference whether you hear the perpetrator speak in a different tone of voice during the crime vs the line-up. Some of our awesome friends were willing to lend us their voices and act as the perpetrator for our study. There were two conditions: In one, participants were exposed to a scenario in which they heard someone speaking in an angry tone. In the other, participants were exposed to someone speaking in a neutral tone. Those situations are the encoding phases. Then participants had to do a distractor task. After this, they listened to a neutral or angry line-up of voices which could include the perpetrator’s voice (but could also not). Participants had to indicate whether they recognised the perpetrator.
We expect that people will be more likely to recognise the perpetrator when he is speaking in a neutral tone of voice in both the encoding phase and during line-up.

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