University Presentation Showcase: Undergraduate Division

Project Title

What Influences Listener’s Perceptions of Foreign Accents?

Presenter Hometown

Louisville KY

Major

Psychology

Department

Psychology

Degree

Undergraduate

Mentor

Sara Incera

Mentor Department

Psychology

Abstract

In today’s world there are more non-native than native speakers of English, making it current and important to understand how the way a person looks influences listeners’ perceptions of the speakers and their accents. A sample of Eastern Kentucky University students were presented with either a video or an audio clip. Participants rated the accentedness of each speaker on a response bar. The video clips included speakers who looked “native” or “foreign” and that sounded “native” or “foreign.” The results of the study show that all foreign-sounding participants were rated as “foreign” independently of their looks. However, when participants viewed a video of a native-sounding speaker that looked foreign, participants rated them as more accented (in the audio-only condition these native speakers were rated “native”). Participants rated the same audio-files of the native speakers that looked foreign as more accented in the video than the audio-only condition. Thus, listeners integrate visual information of the speaker’s face when processing accents. Native speakers that look foreign can be mistakenly perceived as having a foreign accent.

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What Influences Listener’s Perceptions of Foreign Accents?

In today’s world there are more non-native than native speakers of English, making it current and important to understand how the way a person looks influences listeners’ perceptions of the speakers and their accents. A sample of Eastern Kentucky University students were presented with either a video or an audio clip. Participants rated the accentedness of each speaker on a response bar. The video clips included speakers who looked “native” or “foreign” and that sounded “native” or “foreign.” The results of the study show that all foreign-sounding participants were rated as “foreign” independently of their looks. However, when participants viewed a video of a native-sounding speaker that looked foreign, participants rated them as more accented (in the audio-only condition these native speakers were rated “native”). Participants rated the same audio-files of the native speakers that looked foreign as more accented in the video than the audio-only condition. Thus, listeners integrate visual information of the speaker’s face when processing accents. Native speakers that look foreign can be mistakenly perceived as having a foreign accent.