Tag Archives: language

“I just don’t trust you with that accent”: Non-native speakers and the fluency effect

By Erica Zaiser

The other day I was at a pub quiz and a question had been asked which I didn’t know the answer to. While discussing possible answers, one team member said what she thought was the right answer. It just didn’t sound believable to me. Then another team member said the exact same thing and it suddenly sounded like it was probably the right answer. Now, there are lots of reasons why that might happen. I might just have been convinced by two team members voicing the same opinion. Or maybe the second team member simply sounded more confident in her answer, which led to me placing my confidence in her. Or, it occurred to me, it may have been because the first team member was not a native English speaker and the second was.

In an interesting recent set of studies researchers found that when people hear information they are less likely to believe it when the speaker has a non-native accent. According to the researchers, this isn’t just because of prejudice, as one might assume. It’s actually to do with the fluency effect. The ease at which a message is processed is assumed to be indicative of how truthful the message is. In their studies, even when people heard messages which were originally from a native speaker and simply being passed on by the foreign speaker, people still were less likely to trust the message than when it was said directly by a native speaker.

In studies looking at children, researchers found that children were more likely to endorse actions done by a native speaker than a foreign speaker. Although that research wasn’t specifically looking at the fluency effect, it’s quiet possible that it plays a role in guiding children’s choices in selecting to trust information.

The worst part is that I had read this article just before the quiz, so this process was fresh in my mind and it still caught me up. So, for those non-native English speakers out there who are wondering why nobody believes things they say… you may want to put on your best native English accent and try repeating it. Some of us just can’t seem to override the fluency effect.

Read more: Children’s selective trust in native accented speakers.

Read more: BPS Research Digest Blog- Speakers with a foreign accent are perceived as less credible.

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Virtual Conference Report: Day Two (20 Oct, 2009)

by paulabowles

Conference_clappingThe second day of the conference has been filled with three more interesting and innovative papers. David Crystal’s (University of Bangor) keynote lecture entitled ‘Language Death: A Problem for All’ highlights the troubling statistics that ‘96% of the world’s languages are spoken by just 4% of the people’. Given the interdisciplinary nature, and the methodology of this virtual conference, Crystal’s paper draws attention to the use of language as a way to ‘break down barriers’.

The two other papers presented today relate to disability, albeit with very different approaches. The first was given by Wendy Turner (Augusta State University) and is entitled: ‘Human Rights, Royal Rights and the Mentally Disabled in Late Medieval England.’ In her paper Turner suggests that modern preconceptions of medieval disability are not generally supported by the empirical evidence. The second paper ‘The Status of the Learning Disabled in Philosophy of Mind and Disability Studies’ by Maeve M. O’Donovan (College of Notre Dame of Maryland), approaches the subject of learning disability through personal and academic experience and research.

As well, as the ongoing ‘battle of the bands’ competition – plenty of time still to vote! – today also saw the first ‘winning comment’ prize awarded to Rebecca Wheeler.

Virtual Conference Report: Day One (19 Oct, 2009)

by Paula Bowles

NewsstandWelcome to the first day of the 2009 Compass Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference. Regenia Gagnier (University of Exeter) opened the conference by asking: ‘Why Interdisciplinarity?’ As part of her introductory remarks, Professor Gagnier discusses the definitions of Interdisciplinarity, as well as outlining some of the benefits of interdisciplinary research and praxis.

Roger Griffin’s (Oxford Brookes University) keynote paper: ‘The Rainbow Bridge’: Reflections on Interdisciplinarity in the Cybernetic Age’ highlights the opportunities offered by the novel concept of a virtual conference. By reflecting on his own research into fascism, Griffin recognises the need to make cross-disciplinary connections, or as he describes it academics operating ‘flexibly as both splitters and lumpers, according to the situation’.

Two other conference papers have been presented today. The first ‘Communicating about Communication – Multidisciplinary Approaches to Educating Educators about Language Variation’ by Anne H. Charity Hudley (The College of William and Mary) and Christine Mallinson (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) and the second
Language and Communication in the Spanish Conquest of America’ by Daniel Wasserman Soler(University of Virginia).

Finally, Professor of Human Geography, Mike Bradshaw (University of Leicester) has contributed a Publishing Workshop entitled ‘Why Write a Review Paper? And how to do it!’. As well as all of these academic gems, conference delegates have also taken the opportunity to meet the speakers in Second Life and cast their votes in the ‘Battle of the Bands’.