Sociolinguistic Perception as Inference Under Uncertainty

Dave F. Kleinschmidt, Kodi Weatherholtz, T. Florian Jaeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Social and linguistic perceptions are linked. On one hand, talker identity affects speech perception. On the other hand, speech itself provides information about a talker's identity. Here, we propose that the same probabilistic knowledge might underlie both socially conditioned linguistic inferences and linguistically conditioned social inferences. Our computational–level approach—the ideal adapter—starts from the idea that listeners use probabilistic knowledge of covariation between social, linguistic, and acoustic cues in order to infer the most likely explanation of the speech signals they hear. As a first step toward understanding social inferences in this framework, we use a simple ideal observer model to show that it would be possible to infer aspects of a talker's identity using cue distributions based on actual speech production data. This suggests the possibility of a single formal framework for social and linguistic inferences and the interactions between them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)818-834
Number of pages17
JournalTopics in Cognitive Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • Computational modeling
  • Social perception
  • Speech perception


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