Two Partners, One Voice: Prosodic Speech Entrainment in Romantic Relationships



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Previous research has demonstrated that speech entrainment, the tendency of conversational partners to match their speech, may be associated with positive social outcomes. The purpose of this study is to investigate speech entrainment in arguably one of the most important contexts: between romantic partners. Through an analysis of acoustic-prosodic features extracted from recordings of twenty-one couples engaged in conversation, I examine (1) the degree to which romantic partners prosodically entrain their speech and (2) what factors contribute to romantic partners’ level of prosodic speech entrainment. Using information and behavioral measurements collected from the Couples Communication Project corpus, I investigate whether couples’ speech entrainment is dependent on factors such as the length of their relationship, the health of their relationship, and the content of their conversations. Results demonstrate that romantic partners exhibited significant speech entrainment at both a local and global level. No significant differences were found between the degree that couples prosodically entrained and the examined factors. I argue that these findings suggest that speech entrainment between romantic partners is more relevant to momentary interactions, rather than being dependent on general relationship features. I further suggest that this study is limited by the audio recordings and nature of the sample used for analysis, and that extra research is necessary to explore other social factors that may contribute to speech entrainment within romantic relationships.



Prosody, Speech Entrainment, Romantic Relationships, Entrainment, Speech