Researchers: Accents Affect Credibility

CHICAGO, July 19 (UPI) — A foreign accent can affect a person’s credibility in ways neither a speaker nor a listener may realize, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Chicago say because an accent can make a person harder to understand, listeners are less likely to consider what is being said as truthful, a university release Monday said.

The more severe the accent, the less creditable the speaker is perceived to be, researchers say.

“The results have important implications for how people perceive non-native speakers of a language,” Boaz Keysar, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago says, “leading millions of people to be non-native speakers of the language they use daily.”

“Accent might reduce the credibility of non-native job seekers, eyewitnesses, reporters or people taking calls in foreign call centers,” says Shiri Lev-Ari, co-author with Keysar of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

“The accent makes it harder for people to understand what the non-native speaker is saying,” Keysar says. “They misattribute the difficulty of understanding the speech to the truthfulness of the statements.”

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