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Terri L. Bonebright

Dean of Faculty and Professor of Psychology

Why Psychology?

I have always been fascinated with trying to understand why people think and behave the way they do. After I started studying psychology as an undergraduate, I also discovered that I have a passion for experimental methods and the accompanying statistics that help scientists answer questions. The elegance and beauty of a well-designed experiment is something I greatly appreciate. Thus, in psychology I have been able to combine these two interests to investigate questions related to how people perceive sounds in the environment and to learn about how students learn with technology in the classroom. Being a teacher of psychology has also allowed me to show my students how training in the discipline can not only help them think like scientists but how it can also assist them in a number of careers after graduation.

My Research Interests

I have worked in the area of human sound perception to investigate basic perceptual abilities such as how well can people identify sounds made by everyday objects and how does the visual context interact with the sound perception in the environment.  I have also investigated how emotion is expressed in vocalizations and how sound can be used to provide more effective educational experiences for visually impaired students in the classroom. Much of my research is performed in collaboration with faculty colleagues and undergraduate students (for example, see Michael Roberts’ research profile for information on our work together investigating eye movements in relation to memory).

Can you identify interest, disgust and rage from the following affect bursts?

(ANSWERS: 1. disgust 2. interest 3. rage)

i. Affect Bursts

An example of my work in emotional expression in vocalizations is a study on affect bursts, which are non-linguistic emotive vocalizations.  A good example of an affect burst would be when a person says “Uhhh!” in response to a bad smell or sighs when he or she is bored.  Other researchers pointed out that although affect bursts are relatively rare occurrences, they are evolutionarily adaptive.  Vocal affect, and verbal expression of emotion in general, allows an individual to communicate his or her emotional state in an omnidirectional fashion.  Unlike facial expression and other non-verbal forms of expression, emotion can be conveyed verbally even when the source is not visible or may be at a great distance from the individual perceiving the sound.  My current work is seeking to determine how accurate people are at identifying affect bursts for a range of positive and negative emotions.

ii. Pen-based computing in the classroom

Another example of work in by laboratory was done in collaboration with Dave Berque in the computer science department. In this study, we were interested in investigating the effectiveness of using pen-based computers in the classroom.  We conducted surveys and student focus groups to determine specifically what aspects of the technology were useful for students.

iii. Sound perception, vision, and the Foley artist

A third example project involving sound perception and how it interacts with vision relates to a common experience most of us have had.  When we watch movies, there are soundtracks that provide background noise.  Naturally we assume that these sounds are recorded in the actual environment where the action is taking place; however this is seldom the case.  Many times the sounds are added later by a person called a Foley artist.  A good example of this is when coconut shell halves are clapped together for the sounds of horses running (this was featured in the Monty Python film, The Holy Grail). The question that interested me was how similar do the actual sounds have to be before someone thinks that the sound is produced by the object they see in the film.  I am currently conducting a number of studies to provide answers to this question. 

Selected Publications

(*DePauw student)

Bonebright, T. L. (2012). Were those coconuts or horse hoofs? Visual context effects on
   identification and perceived veracity of everyday sounds. Proceedings of the Eighteenth
Conference on Auditory Display


Bonebright, T. L., & Flowers, J. H. (2011). Evaluation of auditory display. In T.
   Hermann, A. Hunt, & J. Neuhoff (Eds). The sonification handbook.
   (pp. 111-144) Berlin: Logos Verlag.


Bonebright, T. L., & Miner, N. E., Goldsmith, T. E., & Caudell, T. P. (2005).
   Data collection and analysis techniques for evaluating the perceptual qualities
   of auditory stimuli. Transactions on Applied Perception, 2, 505-516


Bonebright, T. L., & *Nees, M. A. (2009). Most earcons do not interfere with spoken
   passage comprehension. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 431-445.


*Oren, M., Harding, C., & Bonebright, T. L. (2008). Design and usability testing of
   an audio platform game for players with visual impairments. Journal of Visual
   Impairment and Blindness
, 102, 761-773.


Schindler, R. K., & Bonebright, T. L. (2011). Teaching archaeological ethics – student
   attitudes towards cultural heritage. Consortium: A Journal of Crossdisciplinary
. Umbrellagraph Press: University of Colorado, Boulder, CO


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