Effects of Interpersonal Distance on Children's Vocal Intensity

Cynthia J. Johnson, Herbert L. Pick, Gerald M. Siegel, Anthony W. Cicciarelli, Sharon R. Garber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To meet a listener's needs, as the distance between a speaker and listener increases, the speaker should compensate by increasing the loudness of his voice. In this experiment, 12 people in each of 3 age groups-3-year-olds, 5-year-olds, and college adults-spoke to an adult listener who was positioned 6, 12, and 24 feet from the subject. Each distance represents a doubling of the preceding value. Vocal intensity levels were obtained from graphic-level recordings of the speech at each distance. All 3 groups of subjects responded with increased vocal intensity as the separation from the listener increased, but the adults seemed to be responding to the doublings of distance, while the children seemed more attuned to the absolute differences in distance. Even children as young as 3 years seem to know that it is necessary to increase vocal intensity as the listener becomes more distant.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-723
JournalChild development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1981
Externally publishedYes


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