Pitch Level of Female Characters in East Asian Media

Hannah Shin, Emily Matsuda, Cindy Xiaoxuan Wang

The idea of femininity is often grounded to common elements such as being tender, sweet, and obedient (Lee et al., 2002). This study aimed to test the relationship between one’s level of pitch and the aforementioned characteristics– specifically the role of East Asian media in promoting gender stereotypes through the implementation of various pitch levels. In order to address this question, we conducted a pitch analysis of female fictional characters in popular East Asian shows by obtaining the average fundamental frequency of a speech string through Praat (Boersma & Weenink, 2023). Unlike the hypothesis that higher pitch would correlate with the character’s degree of femininity, we found no significant difference in the average F0 value of stereotypically “feminine” and stereotypically “masculine” female characters. This finding suggests that pitch level alone does not override other non-linguistic and linguistic factors that altogether contribute to the perception of a “feminine” persona.

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