Foreign Accents Make Statements Less Trustworthy

Due to the prin­ciples of pro­cessing flu­ency (also known as cog­nit­ive flu­ency, dis­cussed here many times before), we know that inform­a­tion that is easi­er to pro­cess is per­ceived to be–among oth­er features–more famil­i­ar, pleas­ant, truth­ful and less risky.

A recent study has shown that this is also true for for­eign accents: state­ments spoken by non-nat­ive speak­ers are per­ceived to be less trust­worthy, even if their accent is mild:

Non-nat­ive speech is harder to under­stand than nat­ive speech. We demon­strate that this “pro­cessing dif­fi­culty” causes non-nat­ive speak­ers to sound less cred­ible. People judged trivia state­ments such as “Ants don’t sleep” as less true when spoken by a non-nat­ive than a nat­ive speak­er. When people were made aware of the source of their dif­fi­culty they were able to cor­rect when the accent was mild but not when it was heavy. This effect was not due to ste­reo­types of pre­ju­dice against for­eign­ers because it occurred even though speak­ers were merely recit­ing state­ments provided by a nat­ive speak­er. Such reduc­tion of cred­ib­il­ity may have an insi­di­ous impact on mil­lions of people, who routinely com­mu­nic­ate in a lan­guage which is not their nat­ive tongue.

via Mind Hacks

1 thought on “Foreign Accents Make Statements Less Trustworthy

  1. Ian

    It’s funny, I’m an Amer­ic­an born to a woman from Anti­gua and my fath­er is Irish, my step­father­’s back­ground is from Nor­way and I grew up every­where. I’ve been told by most people that my Eng­lish is accent neut­ral and hard to place but have found that some fel­low Amer­ic­ans find my speech snobby. I have been liv­ing in Ger­many for close to 19 years and my accent when speak­ing Ger­man is extremely “Amer­ic­an” and for some reas­on or anoth­er can­’t lose.

    But and here’s the funny part, most Ger­mans are amazed at my flu­ency and large vocab­u­lary level. It has helped me indir­ectly in my chosen pro­fes­sion ( IT-related) and I’m taken quite ser­i­ously and has even been advant­age­ous for me. As an Amer­ic­an I’m per­ceived to be flex­ible and my “checkered past — always on the move” has not been viewed neg­at­ively but thanks to my lan­guage skills I come across as a “know­ledge” per­son.


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