Spatial location and emotion modulate voice perception

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


How do we perceive voices coming from different spatial locations, and how is this affected by emotion? The current study probed the interplay between space and emotion during voice perception. Thirty participants listened to nonverbal vocalizations coming from different locations around the head (left vs. right; front vs. back), and differing in valence (neutral, positive [amusement] or negative [anger]). They were instructed to identify the location of the vocalizations (Experiment 1) and to evaluate their emotional qualities (Experiment 2). Emotion-space interactions were observed, but only in Experiment 1: emotional vocalizations were better localised than neutral ones when they were presented from the back and the right side. In Experiment 2, emotion recognition accuracy was increased for positive vs. negative and neutral vocalizations, and perceived arousal was increased for emotional vs. neutral vocalizations, but this was independent of spatial location. These findings indicate that emotional salience affects how we perceive the spatial location of voices. They additionally suggest that the interaction between spatial (“where”) and emotional (“what”) properties of the voice differs as a function of task.


External organisations
  • University of Lisbon
  • University of Minho
  • University Institute of Lisbon
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


  • Emotion, space, voice, perception, accuracy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1577-1586
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number8
Early online date2019 Mar 14
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch