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Individual differences in cue weights are stable across time: The case of Japanese stop lengths
Speech categories are defined by multiple acoustic dimensions, and listeners give differential weighting to dimensions in phonetic categorization. The informativeness (predictive strength) of dimensions for categorization is considered an important factor in determining perceptual weighting. However, it is unknown how the perceptual system weighs acoustic dimensions with similar informativeness. This study investigates perceptual weighting of two acoustic dimensions with similar informativeness, exploiting the absolute and relative durations that are nearly equivalent in signaling Japanese singleton and geminate stop categories. In the perception experiments, listeners showed strong individual differences in their perceptual weighting of absolute and relative durations. Furthermore, these individual patterns were stable over repeated testing across as long as 2 months and were resistant to perturbation through short-term manipulation of speech input. Listeners own speech productions were not predictive of how they weighted relative and absolute duration. Despite the theoretical advantage of relative (as opposed to absolute) duration cues across contexts, relative cues are not utilized by all listeners. Moreover, examination of individual differences in cue weighting is a useful tool in exposing the complex relationship between perceptual cue weighting and language regularities.