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Stereotyped Reactions to Regional Accents.

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Introduction

Brit. J. soc. clin. Psychol. (1967), 6, pp. 164-167. Printed in Great Britain. Stereotyped Reactions to Regional Accents By KENNETH T. STRONGMAN AND JANET WOOSLEY Psychology Department, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon The voices of four speakers, reading the same passage, were presented to two groups of subjects - one group from the north of England, the other from the south. Both groups rate the speakers on various personality traits. Unknown to the Ss, there were only two speakers, each of whom recorded the passage twice, once with a London accent and once with a Yorkshire accent. It was thought that if there were any differences in the assessments of the Yorkshire and London speakers, these would be based on the Ss' attitudes towards the particular group as identified by its accent. The results showed that both groups of Ss tended to hold the same stereotyped attitude towards each accent group but did not regard either of them particularly more favourably than the other. These results were compared with previous findings concerning the attitudes of majority and minority groups towards one another. Many experiments have demonstrated that personality cannot be judged reliably by just listening to a voice (cf. Kramer, 1963). For example, Fay & Middleton (1940, 1941, 1943) tried to correlate the actual traits and conditions of the speak with the Ss' judgements of such characteristics as fatigue, sociability and leadership, when all the information available to the Ss was the sound of the transmitted voice. ...read more.

Middle

Firstly, a very neutral, factual passage was used. Secondly, the speakers were directed to try to assume the same personality in both instances. After the four voices had been recorded, a preliminary study was carried out to ascertain whether or not it was recognizable that only two people were reading the passage. No S realized that this was the case. During the experiment, Ss were required to complete a questionnaire, rating each speaker on various personality traits immediately after they had heard him. Eighteen pairs of traits were used, in each case separated by a five-point scale, e.g. Generous 1 2 3 4 5 Mean Ss circled the number which they thought most appropriate. The traits used were a combination of some of those used by Lambert et al. (1960) and Asch (1946). They are listed in Table 1. Table 1. Personality traits I Generous Mean 2 Sociable Unsociable 3 Good-looking Unattractive 4 Serious Frivolous 5 Talkative Restrained 6 Irritable Good-natured 7 Dishonest Honest 8 Imaginative Hard-headed 9 Sense of humour Humourless 10 Ambitious Laissez-faire 11 Unpopular Popular 12 Intelligent Dull 13 Self-confident Shy 14 Unreliable Reliable 15 Determined Unsure 16 Entertaining Boring 17 Kind-hearted Hard 18 Industrious Lazy The following order of presentation of voices was selected randomly. Voice 1: Londoner-Yorkshire accent Voice 2: Yorkshireman-London accent Voice 3: Londoner-London accent Voice 4: Yorkshireman-Yorkshire accent RESULTS AND ANALYSIS For each S two difference scores were obtained. ...read more.

Conclusion

This finding agrees with the earlier studies where majority and minority groups in the same cultural background have been found to hold common stereotyped views. Thus these earlier experimental results have been extended to show that two groups with approximately the same cultural background, neither of them being a majority or minority group, also tend to hold similar stereotyped views. When the results from the two groups of Ss were analysed separately to see if they rated the Yorkshire and London accents differently, the following conclusions could be drawn. Both groups judged the Yorkshire speakers to be more honest and reliable than the London speakers and the London speakers to be more self-confident than the Yorkshire. Northerners judged the Yorkshire speakers to be more industrious and southerners judged them to be more serious than the London speakers. Northerners also judged the Yorkshire speakers to be more generous, good-natured and kind-hearted than the London speakers, whom they rated as slightly more mean, irritable and hard. These results do not seem to favour either the Yorkshire or the London speakers, possibly again because neither of these groups is seen as a particular majority group. This is in contrast with the earlier studies where both the majority and minority groups held common stereotypes which favoured the former and were prejudiced against the latter. The authors are indebted to Dr R. Brown and Mr M. A. Gale of the Psychology Department at Exeter University, for the excellent voice productions. ...read more.

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