Psychophysiological measurement of affective responses during speech perception

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When people make decisions about listening, such as whether to continue attending to a particular conversation or whether to wear their hearing aids to a particular restaurant, they do so on the basis of more than just their estimated performance. Recent research has highlighted the vital role of more subjective qualities such as effort, motivation, and fatigue. Here, we argue that the importance of these factors is largely mediated by a listener's emotional response to the listening challenge, and suggest that emotional responses to communication challenges may provide a crucial link between day-to-day communication stress and long-term health. We start by introducing some basic concepts from the study of emotion and affect. We then develop a conceptual framework to guide future research on this topic through examination of a variety of autonomic and peripheral physiological responses that have been employed to investigate both cognitive and affective phenomena related to challenging communication. We conclude by suggesting the need for further investigation of the links between communication difficulties, emotional response, and long-term health, and make some recommendations intended to guide future research on affective psychophysiology in speech communication.HighlightsEmotional responses are central to communicative decision-making.Emotions reflect conscious interpretation of affective responses.Affective responses may be quantified through physiological measurements.Multiple, mutually-corroborating measurements are desirable.Autonomic response patterns may also link listening effort to long-term health.

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