Charm or Harm: The Effect of an American Southern Accent on Attitude and Comprehension 公开

Heaton, Hayley Elizabeth (2009)

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The main purpose of this project is to examine how context influences attitudes towards and comprehension of standard-accented and Southern-accented speakers. I am interested in the range of attitudes and judgments people form about how people speak and how these perceptions interact with what the person is saying. Participants listened to passages with either neutral or stereotypically Southern content spoken either in an American Southern English accent or a Standard American English accent. Following the passage, measures of passage comprehension and attitude towards the speaker were administered. Results indicated that attitudes clustered into categories of status and solidarity, in line with prior research. Passages with neutral content were rated higher in status compared to Southern-stereotyped passages. Southern-accented speakers were rated higher in solidarity and standard-accented speakers rated higher in status. Interactions between content and accent indicated standard speakers were more sociable, likeable, and cheerful when talking about Southern content. Comprehension was not affected, despite Southern-accented speakers being rated significantly less comprehensible in pilot tests.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

18 Methods

26 Results

31 Discussion

42 References Appendices

45 Appendix A: Passages

48 Appendix B: Comprehension Questions

51 Appendix C: Attitude Rating Scale


52 Table 1: Mean pilot ratings for passage stereotypicality

53 Table 2: Mean pilot ratings for accent stereotypicality

54 Table 3: Mean ratings scores for attitude measures

56 Table 4: Factor analysis results Figures

59 Figure 1: Interaction between speaker accent and passage content for sociability

60 Figure 2: Interaction between speaker accent and passage content for likeability

61 Figure 3: Interaction between speaker accent and passage content for cheerfulness

62 Figure 4: Interaction between speaker accent and passage content for status

63 Figure 5: Interaction between speaker accent and passage content for solidarity

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