Associations of Hostility with Vocal Acoustics During an Anger Recall Task

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Randall S. Jorgensen


Anger expression, Defensiveness, Hostility, Social support, Vocal acoustics

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Hostility contains cognitive, affective and behavioral components (Haney, Maynard, Houseworth, & Scherwitz, 1996) and has been associated with increased cardiovascular reactivity to interpersonal stressors and experiencing more stressful social environments (Smith, 1992). Previous research has assessed hostility through self-report measures, such as the Cook-Medley Hostility (Ho) scale, and structured interviews. Interview assessments of hostility have focused on voice stylistics, such as tone and volume of speech, but through raters' subjective judgments of vocal changes. The emotion literature, using objective computer assessment, has suggested that anger is associated with increases in fundamental frequency (e.g., pitch) and intensity (e.g., volume). The current study investigated the vocal parameters that are associated with the expression of anger during the anger recall interview (ARI), a task in which participants recall and describe a recent angry experience for four minutes. Participants completed the Ho scale, the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire, the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale, and the Social Support Questionnaire Short Form. Vocal acoustics were calculated using two competing methodologies: across the whole first response prior to the ARI prompt versus across a sentence with angry content. Social defensiveness moderated the relationship between hostility and intensity change, and social satisfaction moderated the relationship between hostility and F0 mean and F0 variability change when vocal parameters were calculated across sentences with angry content. Results of this study support the utility of objective measurement of vocal changes during an anger recall task. This methodology may assist in assessing hostility and anger expression.


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