What is the relevant population? Considerations for the computation of likelihood ratios in forensic voice comparison

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In forensic voice comparison, it is essential to consider not only the similarity between samples, but also the typicality of the evidence in the relevant population. This is explicit within the likelihood ratio (LR) framework. A significant issue, however, is the definition of the relevant population. This paper explores the complexity of population selection for voice evidence. We evaluate the effects of population specificity in terms of regional background on LR output using combinations of the F1, F2, and F3 trajectories of the diphthong /aɪ/. LRs were computed using development and reference data which were regionally matched (Standard Southern British English) and mixed (general British English) relative to the test data. These conditions reflect the paradox that without knowing who the offender is, it is not possible to know the population of which he is a member. Results show that the more specific population produced stronger evidence and better system validity than the more general definition. However, as region-specific voice features (lower formants) were removed, the difference in the output from the matched and mixed systems was reduced. This shows that the effects of population selection are dependent on the sociolinguistic constraints on the feature analysed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Interspeech 2017
Place of PublicationStockholm, Sweden
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 May 2017

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