A Cross-Corpus Speech-Based Analysis of Escalating Negative Interactions

I. Lefter, Alice Baird, Lukas Stappen, Björn W. Schuller

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The monitoring of an escalating negative interaction has several benefits, particularly in security, (mental) health, and group management. The speech signal is particularly suited to this, as aspects of escalation, including emotional arousal, are proven to easily be captured by the audio signal. A challenge of applying trained systems in real-life applications is their strong dependence on the training material and limited generalization abilities. For this reason, in this contribution, we perform an extensive analysis of three corpora in the Dutch language. All three corpora are high in escalation behavior content and are annotated on alternative dimensions related to escalation. A process of label mapping resulted in two possible ground truth estimations for the three datasets as low, medium, and high escalation levels. To observe class behavior and inter-corpus differences more closely, we perform acoustic analysis of the audio samples, finding that derived labels perform similarly across each corpus, with escalation interaction increasing in pitch (F0) and intensity (dB). We explore the suitability of different speech features, data augmentation, merging corpora for training, and testing on actor and non-actor speech through our experiments. We find that the extent to which merging corpora is successful depends greatly on the similarities between label definitions before label mapping. Finally, we see that the escalation recognition task can be performed in a cross-corpus setup with hand-crafted speech features, obtaining up to 63.8% unweighted average recall (UAR) at best for a cross-corpus analysis, an increase from the inter-corpus results of 59.4% UAR.
Original languageEnglish
Article number749804
JournalFrontiers in Computer Science
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • affective computing
  • negative interactions
  • cross-corpora analysis
  • conflict escalation
  • speech paralinguistics
  • emotion recognition


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