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Yale study shows class bias in hiring based on few seconds of speech | YaleNews

The researchers based their findings on five separate studies. The first four examined the extent that people accurately perceive social class based on a few seconds of speech. They found that reciting seven random words is sufficient to allow people to discern the speaker’s social class with above-chance accuracy. They discovered that speech adhering to subjective standards for English as well as digital standards — i.e. the voices used in tech products like the Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant — is associated with both actual and perceived higher social class. The researchers also showed that pronunciation cues in an individual’s speech communicate their social status more accurately than the content of their speech. The fifth study examined how these speech cues influence hiring. Twenty prospective job candidates from varied current and childhood socioeconomic backgrounds were recruited from the New Haven community to interview for an entry-level lab manager position at Yale. Prior to sitting for a formal job interview, the candidates each recorded a conversation in which they were asked to briefly describe themselves. A sample of 274 individuals with hiring experience either listened to the audio or read transcripts of the recordings. The hiring managers were asked to assess the candidates’ professional qualities, starting salary, signing bonus, and perceived social class based solely on the brief pre-interview discussion without reviewing the applicants’ job interview responses or resumes.   The hiring managers who listened to the audio recordings were more likely to accurately assess socioeconomic status than those who read transcripts, according to the study. Devoid of any information about the candidates’ actual qualifications, the hiring managers judged the candidates from higher social classes as more likely to be competent for the job, and a better fit for it than the applicants from lower social classes. Moreover, they assigned the applicants from higher social classes more lucrative salaries and signing bonuses than the candidates with lower social status.

Teenagers less likely to respond to mothers with controlling tone of voice: New study showed adolescents were less likely to want to engage with schoolwork when mothers spoke with a pressurising tone -- ScienceDaily

Lead author of the study Dr Netta Weinstein, from Cardiff University, said: "If parents want conversations with their teens to have the most benefit, it's important to remember to use supportive tones of voice. It's easy for parents to forget, especially if they are feeling stressed, tired, or pressured themselves." The study showed that subjects were much more likely to engage with instructions that conveyed a sense of encouragement and support for self-expression and choice. The results, whilst of obvious interest to parents, could also be of relevance to schoolteachers whose use of more motivational language could impact the learning and well-being of students in their classrooms. "Adolescents likely feel more cared about and happier, and as a result they try harder at school, when parents and teachers speak in supportive rather than pressuring tones of voice," Dr Weinstein continued.

Is the most effective weight-loss strategy really that hard? New study shows dietary self-monitoring takes less than 15 minutes a day -- ScienceDaily

What was most predictive of weight-loss success was not the time spent monitoring -- those who took more time and included more detail did not have better outcomes -- but the frequency of log-ins, confirming the conclusions of earlier studies. "Those who self-monitored three or more time per day, and were consistent day after day, were the most successful," Harvey said. "It seems to be the act of self-monitoring itself that makes the difference -- not the time spent or the details included."

Listeners get an idea of the personality of the speaker through his voice -- ScienceDaily

Ratings of perceived personality were highly consistent among listeners regardless of the language in which voices were evaluated. That is, listeners agree in their judgments of whether a given voice sounds aggressive or confident. This suggests that there must be certain invariant properties of the voice that indicate how trustworthy or competent a person is. This is in line with the idea that we can train ourselves to sound more or less competent, more or less dominant, depending on the context (e.g., job interviews). After hearing just one word, listeners rapidly create a social voice space, where voices are grouped according to two main dimensions, one emphasizing traits of valence (trustworthiness, warmth) and other emphasizing strength (dominance, aggressiveness). These two personality dimensions are very relevant and respond to evolutionary pressures. Obtaining information about the intent of the others helps individuals to appropriately evaluate whether to approach or to avoid interaction with others.

How the Surprise Interactive 'Black Mirror' Came Together | WIRED

The magic of combinatorial math means that there are technically more than a trillion paths through the story, though in reality the number is much smaller. But "much smaller" is still pretty huge: There are five main endings, with multiple variants of each—though upon reaching an ending, Netflix will also helpfully bring you back to pivotal decision points so that you can ease your FOMO and try the path not traveled. In a visit to Netflix's headquarters in Los Gatos, California, I had about 75 minutes to make my way through it, and was only able to trigger three endings. Suffice it to say that the Branch Manager visualization of Bandersnatch looks a little bit like Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean trying to eat an entire bowl of spaghetti at once. Todd Yellin thinks the end result will provide anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes of entertainment for most people. Sure, if you don't touch the remote—or tablet, or keyboard, or phone, or game controller—it'll choose for you, and curate your experience down to a 90-minute default. But that won't be the best one, not by a long shot

talking to your TV, Black Mirror backstory

"Kids in general don't hesitate to talk to the screen," Engelbrecht says. "But they immediately lit up. One of my absolutely favorite moments was with an 8- and 9-year-old brother and sister. They'd go back and forth: 'Shake hands!' 'Kiss!' They'd cheer and boo, and all all the while had these smiles on their faces—and their mom too."

May A.I. Help You? - The New York Times

In a study with 70 young adults, Darcy found that after two weeks of interacting with the bot, the test subjects had lower incidences of depression and anxiety. […]Last spring, when Darcy put Woebot online, free to all, its use immediately exploded; in the first week, more than 50,000 people talked to it. (“Do you realize,” Ng told Darcy, “that Woebot spoke to more people today than a human therapist could in a lifetime?”) Nowadays, Woebot exchanges between one and two million messages a week with users, ranging from divorcées to the bereaved to young men, a population that rarely seeks treatment. Many tell Darcy that it’s easier to talk to a bot than a human; they don’t feel judged.

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong - The Huffington Post

the decisive factor in obesity care was not the diet patients went on, but how much attention and support they received while they were on it. Participants who got more than 12 sessions with a dietician saw significant reductions in their rates of prediabetes and cardiovascular risk. Those who got less personalized care showed almost no improvement at all.

Stanford researcher: Hallucinatory 'voices' shaped by local culture

The striking difference was that while many of the African and Indian subjects registered predominantly positive experiences with their voices, not one American did. Rather, the U.S. subjects were more likely to report experiences as violent and hateful – and evidence of a sick condition. The Americans experienced voices as bombardment and as symptoms of a brain disease caused by genes or trauma. One participant described the voices as “like torturing people, to take their eye out with a fork, or cut someone’s head and drink their blood, really nasty stuff.” Other Americans (five of them) even spoke of their voices as a call to battle or war – “‘the warfare of everyone just yelling.'” Moreover, the Americans mostly did not report that they knew who spoke to them and they seemed to have 
less personal relationships with their voices, according to Luhrmann. Among the Indians in Chennai, more than half (11) heard voices of kin or family members commanding them to do tasks. “They talk as if elder people advising younger people,” one subject said. That contrasts to the Americans, only two of whom heard family members. Also, the Indians heard fewer threatening voices than the Americans – several heard the voices as playful, as manifesting spirits or magic, and even as entertaining. Finally, not as many of them described the voices in terms of a medical or psychiatric problem, as all of the Americans did.

Alexa: Amazon’s Operating System – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

In short, Amazon is building the operating system of the home — its name is Alexa — and it has all of the qualities of an operating system you might expect: All kinds of hardware manufacturers are lining up to build Alexa-enabled devices, and will inevitably compete with each other to improve quality and lower prices. Even more devices and appliances are plugging into Alexa’s easy-to-use and flexible framework, creating the conditions for a moat: appliances are a lot more expensive than software, and much longer lasting, which means everyone who buys something that works with Alexa is much less likely to switch

Drop your voice to win the debate ... hmmm

In the first of two experiments, 191 participants (ages 17 to 52) individually ranked the importance of 15 items they were told they might need to survive a disaster on the moon. They then worked in small groups on the same task. The researchers videotaped these interactions and used phonetic analysis software to measure the fundamental frequency of each utterance. They also looked at "how one person's answers converged with the group's final answer" as another way to measure influence, Cheng said. The study participants and outsiders viewing their interactions tended to rate those whose voices deepened between their first and third utterances as more dominant and influential than participants whose voices went up in pitch. None of the subjects or the outside observers was aware that the study focused on the relationship between vocal cues and status.

The voices of our habits and addictions

Obsessions, compulsions, addictions, and other "inner demons" aren't the only agents with real power to control and explain our behavior; our brains are host to 'benevolent' agents as well. Our consciences, for example. These are agents that live inside our brains, who are being trained throughout our lives, but especially in childhood, by our interactions with parents, authority figures, and other moral teachers, and by various rewards and (especially) punishments.

A preliminary taxonomy of the voices inside your head

Puchalska-Wasyl crunched the numbers (using a technique called k-means clustering) and found that the participants' descriptions of their inner voices clustered into four distinct categories. Thirty of them fell into the category of "Faithful Friend" and were associated with strength and unity and positive emotion; 22 fitted the category of "Ambivalent Parent" and were associated with strength and love, but also ambivalence or negativity to the participant's irresponsible ideas; 32 matched the "Proud Rival" category, showing pride and self-confidence combined with a lack of closeness to the participant; and finally the remainder fitted the description of "Calm Optimist" – a relaxed interlocutor, characterised by low self-enhancement, little emphasis on contact with others, but in a way that participants perceived positively.

Poetry inscribes humanity

“Poetry’s work is to make people real to us through the agency of the voice. . . . When people are real to you, you can’t fly a plane into the office building where they work, you can’t bulldoze the refugee camp where they live, you can’t cluster-bomb their homes and streets. We only do those things when we understand people as part of a category: infidel, insurgent, enemy. Meanwhile, poetry does what it does, inscribing individual presence, making a system of words and sounds to mark the place where one human being stood, bound in time, reporting on what it is to be one. In the age of the collective of mass culture and mass market, there’s hope in that.”