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In this article we address the increasingly important yet understudied phenomenon of nonnative accentedness on decision making. In three experimental studies, we investigated whether messages about a company delivered in nonstandard-American-accented speech influenced choice. In Study 1, we found that individuals were more likely to choose a company or a product when a message was read in a standard American English accent than when the message was delivered with a Mandarin Chinese or a French accent. In Study 2, we found that expectations regarding company messages are violated when speakers have accents and that, in turn, expectation violations mediated the relationship between accent and choice. In Study 3, we replicated the findings of the effect of accent on choice using Indian and British accents. We also hypothesized and found support for a conditional indirect effects model such that implicit pro-American bias moderated the indirect relationship between accent and choice as mediated by expectation violations. Theoretical and practical implications of this topic of study are discussed.
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DOI: 10.1177/0149206314541151
published online 15 July 2014Journal of Management
Beth A. Livingston, Pauline Schilpzand and Amir Erez
Not What You Expected to Hear: Accented Messages and Their Effect on Choice
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1
Not What You Expected to Hear: Accented
Messages and Their Effect on Choice
Beth A. Livingston
Cornell University
Pauline Schilpzand
Oregon State University
Amir Erez
University of Florida
In this article we address the increasingly important yet understudied phenomenon of nonnative
accentedness on decision making. In three experimental studies, we investigated whether mes-
sages about a company delivered in nonstandard-American-accented speech influenced choice.
In Study 1, we found that individuals were more likely to choose a company or a product when
a message was read in a standard American English accent than when the message was deliv-
ered with a Mandarin Chinese or a French accent. In Study 2, we found that expectations
regarding company messages are violated when speakers have accents and that, in turn, expec-
tation violations mediated the relationship between accent and choice. In Study 3, we replicated
the findings of the effect of accent on choice using Indian and British accents. We also hypoth-
esized and found support for a conditional indirect effects model such that implicit pro-Ameri-
can bias moderated the indirect relationship between accent and choice as mediated by
expectation violations. Theoretical and practical implications of this topic of study are dis-
cussed.
Keywords: accents; decision making; choice; bias; expectation violation
You see this creature with her kerbstone English: the English that will keep her in the gutter to
the end of her days.
—George Bernard Shaw (1916)
Corresponding author: Beth A. Livingston, Cornell University, 166 Ives Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
E-mail: BAL93@cornell.edu
541151JOMXXX10.1177/0149206314541151Journal of Management / Month XXXXLivingston et al. / Accents and Choice
research-article2014
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2 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
Though Henry Higgins, a fictional character in Shaw’s play Pygmalion, articulated this
“conventional wisdom” nearly a century ago, his belief about the impressions derived from
accents may be more relevant today than ever before. The impact of accents may be espe-
cially influential and wide ranging given the rapid movement of the world toward interna-
tionalization and globalization (Friedman, 2005). Employees around the globe are
increasingly expected to interact with others who speak in a wide variety of accents, as many
large corporations now have production or sales facilities in other countries (Friedman,
2005). Even in America, more and more foreign employees are joining the workforce
(Stalker, 2000). Indeed, as the populations of the United States and other countries around the
world become more ethnically diverse (Fackler, 2009; Johnston & Packer, 1987; Kemnitzer,
2007; U.S. Census Bureau, 2006; Wohland, Rees, Norman, Boden, & Jasinska, 2010), the
potential effects of accented speech become increasingly important to understand.
The critical conjecture Henry Higgins makes in the epigraph is that accents have a strong
influence on people’s perceptions of others. Empirical evidence has indeed indicated that
accents affect individuals’ favorability evaluations (Edwards, 1982), perceptions of others’
competence (Luhman, 1990), and classification of individuals into in- and out-groups
(Berger, Rosenholtz, & Zelditch, 1980; Ryan, 1983). The aforementioned globalization of
business and the growing diversity of the workforce in the United States make it more likely
that individuals will interact with a coworker, client, or partner of non-American origin who
speaks English intelligibly, but with a noticeable accent. This leads us to ask whether accented
individuals might be disadvantaged relative to those who speak standard American English
by an American audience, regardless of the merits of their argument. Research on speaker
evaluations suggests that accented speakers are indeed more poorly evaluated (Berger et al.,
1980; Edwards, 1982; Luhman, 1990; Ryan, 1983). Yet we currently do not know if these
negative evaluations translate to decision-making and choice behaviors.
Choice is a critical component of work behavior, and both employees and managers are
continually required to make choices in their work environments. For example, employees
and managers may have to choose whether or not to support a colleague’s opinion during a
meeting, whether to begin making purchasing plans after hearing sales pitches, whether to
accept a negotiated deal, or whether to offer a job opportunity to one employee over potential
others. We believe that the workplace choices that employees encounter during the work day
may all be influenced by the accented (or nonaccented) speech of those they interact with.
Moreover, accents might not only influence organizational incumbents, they may also impact
how outsiders react to an organization’s communication. Company messages are important
means by which companies try to influence the choices of potential investors, business part-
ners, consumers, and job applicants (Gatewood, Gowan, & Lautenschlager, 1993; Rynes &
Barber, 1990; Tellis, 1988; Westphal & Zajac, 1994; Zajac & Westphal, 1995). If accented
messages affect choice, particularly among native American English speakers who may
expect to hear other native American English speakers, then foreign-owned and internation-
ally based companies may face an initial disadvantage in the United States merely because of
the accents the owners and spokespeople might have.
If, as we expect, accents do affect the choices individuals make, then investigating how
and to what degree individuals may be influenced by others’ accented speech is an important
contribution to the managerial decision-making literature and has important implications for
modern workplaces where internationalization is increasingly common. Indeed, new research
by Huang, Frideger, and Pearce (2013) has demonstrated the impact of nonnative accented
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 3
speech (versus standard American English) on selection decision making, finding that,
regardless of perceptions of skill or race, nonnative speakers are penalized.
Our research extends this important contribution to other choice decisions such as choice
of a company to patronize, a product to select, or a job applicant to recommend. In this study
we also attempt to explain why accents influence choice by specifying the mechanisms that
may mediate the relationships between accents and choice decisions. Specifically, as
informed by the stereotype content model (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002), we suggest
that accents will elicit stereotypes about the competence of the message deliverer and that
these stereotypes, in turn, will negatively affect choice decisions. Following expectancy vio-
lations theory (Burgoon, 1978), we also suggest that hearing a nonnative accent (as compared
to a standard American accent)1 in a U.S. context violates normative expectations about how
American businesses should communicate and deliver messages. In turn, this norm violation
has a negative effect on various manifestations of individual choice including the choice
between products, companies, and people. In addition, we explore a boundary condition that
may moderate the relationships between accent and choice. We suggest that it is not likely
that all individuals will be affected to the same extent by accented speech, and we explore
how personally held implicit pro-American bias moderates the strength of the negative effect
of accentedness on choice.
Effects of Accents on Choice Through Stereotypes and Violated
Expectations
Choice is one of the primary constructs in the decision-making literature (Goldstein &
Hogarth, 1997; Tetlock, 2000) and constitutes the final outcome of the decision making pro-
cess (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981) regardless of theoretical framework (Savage, 1954).
Choice is moreover a construct critical to the study of many organizational phenomena,
including managerial decisions regarding issues of selection (e.g., Purkiss, Perrewé, Gillespie,
Mayes, & Ferris, 2006), investment (e.g., Kahneman & Tversky, 1979), and procurement
(e.g., Zwick, Pieters, & Baumgartner, 1995). Given that accentedness affects listeners’ per-
ceptions and evaluations of accented others (e.g., their favorability evaluations—Edwards,
1982; their competence perceptions—Luhman, 1990; their classification as out-group mem-
bers—Berger et al., 1980; Ryan, 1983), we expect that accentedness influences the choices
that listeners of accented messages make as well. Messages delivered by in-group members
tend to be more persuasive than those delivered by out-group members (McGarty, Haslam,
Hutchinson, & Turner, 1994), and likeable communicators tend to be more persuasive when
listeners were not highly engaged with the topic (Chaiken, 1980). These findings suggest that
messages delivered in nonstandard American English will be less persuasive and reduce the
likelihood of choice.
In this section, we present theoretical rationale for why we believe that accents will influ-
ence choice, as the explanatory mechanisms for this novel topic of inquiry are not yet known.
Specifically, we suggest that two intervening variables may mediate this relationship: com-
petence stereotypes and expectation violations.
Stereotypes and Accents
Both the extant psychological and managerial literatures suggest that others’ demograph-
ics such as gender, race, and ethnicity affect individuals’ attitudes and behaviors through
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stereotypes (e.g., Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1998; Landau, 1995; Powell, Butterfield, & Parent,
2002). It is reasonable to expect that accents (which can be highly related to perceptions of
ethnic origin) may also affect choice behavior by eliciting stereotypes in listeners.
Stereotypes are “judgmental heuristics relied upon by social perceivers” (Bodenhausen,
Sheppard, & Kramer, 1994: 49), and they provide information in a chaotic social environ-
ment, reducing the need to effortfully process interpersonal information (e.g., Allport, 1954;
Fiske & Taylor, 1991; Hamilton & Trolier, 1986). A stereotype may simultaneously include
positive and negative evaluations, which serve to guide judgments of (and actions toward)
individuals who are members of that social category (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). A large
body of research on language attitudes suggests that accents may elicit stereotypes about
accented speakers (e.g., Edwards, 1977; Ladegaard, 1998; Nesdale & Rooney, 1990, 1996;
Riches & Foddy, 1989; Ruscher, 2001; Sridhara, 1984). Nonnative speakers of American
English experience discrimination and bias beyond that which can be explained by race or
ethnicity alone (Gluszek & Dovidio, 2010; Huang et al., 2013).
Accents cue stereotypes by indicating to the listener that the speaker is a member of a dif-
ferent in-group than the listener (e.g., Berger et al., 1980; Berger, Wagner, & Zelditch, 1985)
and by aiding the inference of ethnic identities (Riches & Foddy, 1989). Indeed, numerous
studies have demonstrated that an accent different from one’s own is an important signal of
an ethnic difference (e.g., Bresnahan & Kim, 1993; Giles, Mulac, Bradac, & Johnson, 1987;
Ryan, 1983; White & Li, 1991). In turn, the classification of the accented speaker to a differ-
ent group may invoke stereotypes about the classified out-group. In fact, studies of both
foreign language accents (e.g., French, Chinese) and domestic accents within a country (e.g.,
Appalachian American English, African American Vernacular; Gill, 1994) have shown that
both standard and nonstandard accents indeed activate stereotypes, which in turn direct
behavior. For instance, Rubin and Smith (1990) analyzed attitudes toward foreign teaching
assistants (TAs) in the United States and found that—presumably because of their accents—
Chinese TAs were avoided 40% of the time and were perceived to be poor teachers, even
when a student had never taken the TA’s class.
But why would the stereotypes invoked by an accented message affect the persuasive
power of the message itself? According to Fiske et al. (2002), while most stereotype research-
ers emphasize the process by which people categorize information about others, the content
of stereotypes may be at least as important as the process. As such, Fiske and colleagues
mapped the stereotype content concerning different groups onto the dimensions of compe-
tence and warmth and found content differences in the ratings about them. For instance,
Hispanics were consistently stereotyped as lower in warmth and lower in competence; in
contrast, educated, upper-class Whites were mapped as higher in both categories. Ethnicity,
then, spurs varied ratings of competence. In turn, the classification of a message deliverer as
lower in competence is likely to affect the perceived persuasiveness of the message he or she
delivers. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that if the message source is considered
not credible, the persuasive power of the message is considerably reduced (Petty & Wegener,
1998; Pornpitakpan, 2004). Thus, if accent affects a message deliverer’s perceived compe-
tence, it is likely to also affect the persuasiveness of his or her message(s).
Related to this, accent has been found to be a status cue, such that in the absence of other
salient status cues (such as clothing, accessories, or behaviors) accent is used as a basis of
differentiation (Riches & Foddy, 1989). In the workplace, where employees often abide by
dress codes and as such status cues are not omnipresent, accent may be especially relied upon
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 5
as a heuristic evaluation tool. Thus, we expect that nonnative accents will invoke negative
stereotypes of competence, which, in turn, will explain why accents negatively affect the
choice behavior of listeners.
Expectation Violations and Accents
While accents may influence the choice behaviors of listeners by invoking competence eval-
uations of the speaker, they may also affect choice by interfering with the cognitive processing
of the message itself. The theoretical basis for this suggestion lies in expectancy violations the-
ory (EVT; Burgoon, 1978), which argues that individuals hold norm-driven expectations regard-
ing certain communication events. When those expectations are violated, individuals can become
distracted and react differently than if those expectations are not violated (Stacks & Burgoon,
1979, 1981). For example, EVT suggests that if a cultural norm dictates that people should be
granted a relatively large personal space, those who stand very close when speaking violate this
expected norm, making others uncomfortable. At its core, EVT argues that violations of expecta-
tions create distractions that are likely to negatively affect outcomes such as choice.
The basic tenets of expectancy violation theory have been extended to a variety of other
contexts beyond nonverbal communications. For example, language expectancy theory
(Burgoon & Miller, 1985) suggests that both women who engage in aggressive persuasion and
men who employ passive persuasion methods violate gender norm expectations regarding the
use of language, which reduced persuasion power in both cases (Burgoon, Dillard, & Doran,
1983). Recently research has also begun to examine whether expectations are violated when
speakers utilize various accents or speech patterns, such as stereotypically “gay speech”
(Gowen & Britt, 2006). Gowen and Britt (2006) asked listeners to grant scholarships to a subset
of students after hearing a message from them. The scholarship-seeking students were either
homosexual or heterosexual and spoke either in stereotypical gay speech patterns or standard
speech patterns. Results showed that both speakers who violated stereotype-consistent expecta-
tions (a homosexual speaker with a standard speech pattern and a heterosexual speaker with a
homosexual speech pattern) were significantly more negatively evaluated by participants and
less likely to be granted the scholarships. Thus, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest
that accents can affect speaker evaluations through their effects on expectation violations.
But why would expectation violation affect persuasion and consequently choice behaviors?
Cognitive scientists have noted that expectation violation (as compared to expectation confirma-
tion) has immediate negative effects on cognition because expectation violations distract and
redirect the individual’s attentional resources to non-task-related efforts (Bartholow, Fabiani,
Gratton, & Bettencourt, 2001). Attentional resources have limited capacity, such that when two
or more cognitive tasks exceed the total working memory resources of the brain’s central execu-
tive, decreases in performance on these tasks are bound to occur (Eysenck & Keane, 2003).
Mental events that are expected, or habitual, should not drain the pool of mental resources
(Ashcraft, 1989). Expected patterns of speech have been shown by many cognitive studies to
be habitual and to be activated automatically; thus they are processed efficiently without tak-
ing much cognitive capacity (Ashcraft, 1989). As such, standard American English accents
should not interfere with the ability of people to process the information conveyed in the
message because the speech confirms norm-consistent expectations, particularly among
native American English speakers in American contexts. In contrast, the unexpected nature
of accented messages will likely interfere with cognitive processing of the content of the
message. It is well known that unexpected and novel stimuli are attention capturing and
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6 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
invoke a spontaneous redirection of attention toward the unexpected stimulus (Cowan,
1995). Thus, it is likely that the unexpected accent stimulus would divert attentional resources
away from the task of processing the message’s content and direct them toward the process-
ing of the accent stimulus. This reduced level of message processing should reduce individu-
als’ persuasion by the message’s content, or, as in our study, reduce the individuals’ likelihood
to make the counternormative choice advocated in the message content.
Accented messages about companies should be perceived as an expectation violation
since the institutional norm among American companies (in the United States) is to use stan-
dard American accents to present information (e.g., Speicher & Bielanski, 2000). This
expected norm is reinforced via the advertisements and spoken communiqués that organiza-
tions target at potential job seekers, customers, and investors, which are predominately deliv-
ered in standard American accents. When norms are violated, negative evaluations result
(Levine et al., 2000), particularly when those violations are unexpected. Because companies
using nonnative accents thwarts an expected norm associated with a common business prac-
tice and distracts the listener from the content of the message being delivered (Stacks &
Burgoon, 1979, 1981), we propose that nonnative accented speech is expected to reduce the
likelihood that an individual would be persuaded by a message and in turn select the advo-
cated person, product, or company that employed accented speech in its message.
Thus, in summarizing the preceding discussion of the effect of accented speech on com-
petence stereotyping and expectation violation, we expect that hearing a nonstandard
American accent in a company message will (a) be perceived as a nationality cue
(Chattopadhyay, George, & Lawrence, 2004), which will result in out-group denigration
about competence by individuals not associated with that nationality (i.e., native American
English speakers; Fiske & Taylor, 1991; Marques, Yzerbyt, & Rijsman, 1988; Turner, Brown,
& Tajfel, 1979), and (b) violate an expected norm associated with successful American busi-
nesses. In turn, we expect that these processes will jointly explain the effect of accented mes-
sages on listeners’ choices. Thus, we hypothesize,
Hypothesis 1 (H1): Individuals who listen to a message delivered by speakers of standard American
English (i.e., “nonaccented” speakers) will be more likely to make a choice consistent with the
message content than those who hear a message delivered by speakers of nonstandard (i.e., “non-
native”) accents.
Hypothesis 2 (H2): The negative relationship between accentedness and choice consistent with the
message content will be partially mediated by stereotypes of competence, such that accentedness
will be negatively associated with perceived competence.
Hypothesis 3 (H3): The negative relationship between accentedness and choice consistent with the
message content will be partially mediated by expectation violation, such that accentedness will
be positively associated with expectation violation.
Study 1
Method
Participants and Procedure
Students enrolled in a required undergraduate management course at a southeastern uni-
versity were recruited to participate in a laboratory study aimed at investigating the effective-
ness of a message about a new company. Participation was voluntary, and participants
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 7
received extra credit in their course. Participants were told that they were to take part in a
study about a company looking to expand into the local community. We enlisted two separate
samples of students to test two operationalizations of choice.
In the first sample, 453 undergraduate students ranging in age from 18 to 52 years old,
with a mean age of 20.4, participated. Of the sample, 52% were male. Of participants, 68%
identified themselves as Caucasian, 6% as African American, 8% as Asian/Pacific Islander,
and 13% as Hispanic; the remainder did not indicate their race. All participants were native
American English speakers. The second sample consisted of 115 students ranging in age
from 18 to 28 (mean age of 20 years). In all, 46% were males and 84% identified themselves
as Caucasian. The remainder identified themselves as African American (4%), Asian/Pacific
Islander (5%), or Hispanic (7%). Again, all participants were native American English
speakers.
Accent Manipulation
We hypothesized that, in comparison to nonnative accents, the standard American English
accent would favorably influence individuals’ choice for a product advocated in the message
(selecting an alternative over an established product). In order to help generalize our findings
across nonnative accents, we chose Mandarin Chinese and French (European) as the nonna-
tive accents of interest. Mandarin Chinese and French have clear linguistic differences and
they are phonologically distinct (Halle, Chang, & Best, 2004; Riegel, 1968). Furthermore,
we selected Mandarin Chinese and French as our target accents in order to address a possible
alternative explanation to our findings: Any differences we might observe between standard
American English accents and other accents could be potentially attributed not to the accents
themselves but to the national characteristics they represent. Consequently, in our design we
attempted to address “the specific nationality or race” explanation by using accents that are
distinctly different from an American accent yet represent a broad range of nationalities. This
does not completely eliminate this potential explanation, but provides firmer support for our
arguments regarding accent.
Six volunteers, a male and a female from the midwestern United States, China, and France,
recorded the same messages. Each volunteer met separately with the same researcher and
recorded the same spoken script. A certified speech-language pathologist from the depart-
ment of communication sciences and disorders at the university with research experience in
voice and voice analysis analyzed the recordings to ensure similarity of intelligibility of the
speakers. The intelligibility score given to all accents ranged from 80 to 100, with an average
of 90, indicating that all the messages were comprehensible.
In the first sample, we included two different types of products and speakers who were
both male and female. Thus, this sample employed a 3 × 2 × 2 factorial design, in which we
varied accent (Mandarin Chinese, French, and standard American English), gender of the
speaker (male or female), and type of product (coffee shop or computer self-help book). The
design for the second sample varied only the three accents and the gender of the speaker, but
only the coffee shop product was tested, thus constituting a 3 × 2 factorial design.
In both samples, sessions were conducted with up to 25 participants at a time, and each
group of participants was randomly assigned to one of the twelve Accents × Gender × Product
conditions (for Sample 1) or one of six Accent × Gender conditions (for Sample 2). Upon
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8 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
arriving at the research laboratory, participants were first told the cover story (described
below), then listened to the audio message about the company. After listening to the message
describing the company, participants answered several questionnaires about the company
and the speaker in the message and made a behavioral decision regarding the company or
product choice. They were then thanked and released. A debriefing e-mail was sent out to all
participants describing the true purpose of the research after all the participants had com-
pleted the study.
As noted above, the first sample utilized two separate products/companies. Our first
choice manipulation was in the context of a coffee shop. Participants were told that a new
company, planning to open a branch in the university town, had asked the business school to
assist in conducting research about students’ reactions to the company’s opening. The com-
pany was stated to be owned by two alumni of the university. Participants were told that a
team of graduate students was assigned the task of testing students’ reaction to the company’s
message. Participants were also told that the target market for this product—a coffee shop—
consisted of students similar to the participants, hence their feedback would be very helpful
to the company. They were assured that their individual responses would be anonymous but
that the overall results of the research would be presented to the company executives. The
company was then introduced to participants in a 2-minute audio message describing the new
company (e.g., CT’s Coffee). The coffee shop was presented as a competitor to Starbucks,
which was already established in the university town and located right across from campus.
Therefore, various aspects of the company were described in the message as clear improve-
ments over Starbucks (e.g., expanded musical selections, increased study space, and addi-
tional coffee flavors).
Participants were then asked to select one company over the other for a potential gift card
award (CT’s Coffee versus Starbucks) in a decision that involved which company they would
choose to patronize. When our participants selected one company over another, in effect they
made the decision of where they wanted to spend their time and/or resources. While a choice
that involves the context of a coffee shop has the advantage that it is more than just a “product
choice,” it also has a potential disadvantage that it may be associated with a specific culture.
In the past two decades since Starbucks started expending beyond the Pacific Northwest in
the late 1980s, coffee shops have become part of the American culture. Thus, it is possible
that the population of individuals participating in this study perceived the coffee shop as an
American phenomenon. Therefore, French or Chinese accents may not be congruous with
this context, affecting our results. Thus, in Sample 1 only, we also tested our hypotheses
using a more culturally neutral product: a computer book called “EZ Computers.” In our
cover story, the EZ Computers book was positioned as a similar product to the “for dummies”
books available in local bookstores and libraries. EZ Computers was also positioned as a
company being founded by university alumni, and the presentation mirrored that of the cof-
fee shop, in which participants were provided with direct comparisons to an alternative, well-
established product. Again, a 2-minute audio message was presented in an American English,
French, or Chinese accent.
Choices. To measure the influence of the message on participants’ choice of the new com-
pany or the new product, in Sample 1 participants were asked to make a choice between the
two companies discussed in the message (e.g., CT’s Coffee versus Starbucks; EZ Computers
versus a “for dummies” computer book). In Sample 2, participants only heard CT’s Coffee
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 9
messages. We used different operationalizations of choice in each sample.
For Sample 1, participants in the coffee shop group were informed (in written form) that
as a token of appreciation for students’ participation in the study, the company had donated a
limited number of gift cards for CT’s that included 10 free coffees per gift card. They were
also told that because gift cards could be perceived as a form of advertisement, which is not
the purpose of this “token of appreciation gift,” the research team decided to also purchase a
limited number of Starbucks gift cards with their leftover budget in order to give participants
a choice between the two companies. Similarly, participants in the computer book group
were informed (in written form) that they could receive a free EZ Computers book donated
by the founders of the company or a “for dummies” series computer book purchased by the
research team.
Participants were then told that they should choose from which of the two companies (the
new or the known one) they would like to get a gift should they win the drawing, and that at
the end of the study a lottery-style drawing would be held in which they would have an equal
chance of winning the gift of their choice (e.g., CT’s or Starbucks; EZ or “for dummies”). All
participants had an equal chance of winning the drawing for the prize, and the names drawn
would get the gift they had indicated as their choice. Choosing the advertised company (CT’s
gift card or EZ Computers book) was interpreted as a measure of choosing this company over
the better-known alternative. We conducted the drawing after the debriefing process, but
provided only Starbucks gift cards or “for dummies” books as the prizes awarded (given the
hypothetical nature of the advertised companies). Choice was coded as 1 = new product
(CT’s Coffee or EZ Computers) and 0 = existing product.
For Sample 2, we assessed choice differently. Research clearly suggests that individuals
do not like to share personal information for marketing purposes (Phelps, Nowak, & Ferrell,
2000; Sheehan & Hoy, 1999). Numerous surveys indicate that the majority of Americans are
concerned about threats to their personal privacy and what companies know about these
concerns (Phelps et al., 2000). Indeed, as a reaction to the public concern, both policy makers
in Washington, D.C., and at the state level have introduced numerous bills (i.e., 8,500 in 1997
alone) to protect the privacy of Americans. Thus, it is not surprising that many studies found
that the majority of consumers have refused to give personal information at one time or
another to companies (Phelps et al., 2000). Participants were assured that their information
would be shared only with the company and not with any other party. Participants who chose
to provide their personal information to the company (including name, address, phone, and
e-mail) were interpreted as making a choice that favored the company (over the alternative
of not risking one’s personal information).2 Choice was coded as 1 = provided information
and 0 = provided no information.
Demographics. After participants made their choice, they were given a survey in which
they specified their gender, race, and age for demographic reporting purposes.
Results and Discussion
To determine whether our experimental manipulations created the intended conditions for
the study, we first investigated whether participants recognized that the messages were being
delivered with nonstandard American English accents. At the end of the study, participants
were asked an open-ended question about where the speaker in the message was from, based
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10 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
on how he or she spoke. Responses were coded based on whether the participant correctly
identified that the speaker did not have an American accent. For Sample 1, 97% of partici-
pants correctly noted whether the speaker of the message had a nonnative or standard
American accent, suggesting that our manipulations of accent were effective. For Sample 2,
96% of participants correctly noted whether the speaker had a nonnative accent. We used in
our analyses only participants who had correctly identified a non-American versus an
American English accent (final N for Sample 1 = 445; final N for Sample 2 = 100).
Means, standard deviations, and intercorrelations among the study variables are provided
in Table 1. To test our hypothesis that “nonnative accents” would have different effects on
company choice than a “standard American accent,” we combined the two nonnative accents
into one group. To confirm the appropriateness of combining accents to create an “accented”
condition with regard to participants’ choice decisions, we conducted two z test of differ-
ences between proportions (of choosing the newly proposed company). We first conducted a
z test comparing French and Chinese accents on the dependent variable (choice). Results for
the first analysis demonstrated that there was no significant difference between the French
and Chinese accents on choice (z = 0.85, ns). For Sample 2, the z test comparing French and
Chinese speakers was also not significant (z = 1.31, ns). Therefore, participants in the French
and Chinese groups were combined to form a “nonnative accent” group for further analysis
in both samples.
In order to assess H1, we tested the difference between the “standard American accent” and
the “nonnative accent” groups on behavioral choice, controlling for type of product (CT’s
Coffee versus EZ Computers) and the gender of the speaker (male and female speakers were
used) using one-tailed hypothesis tests. Table 2 shows the results of a binary logistic regres-
sion analysis with the behavioral choice as the dependent variable and accent of the speaker
(American or nonnative), type of product, and speaker gender. The regression for Sample 2
was identical, but without type of product included. The results show that, in Sample 1,
Table 1
Means, Standard Deviations, and Intercorrelations Among Study 1 Variables
Sample 1 Sample 2
M SD M SD 1 2 3 4 5
1. Accent 0.31 0.46 0.30 0.46 n/a .22* −.23* n/a
2. Product/company choice 0.62 0.49 n/a n/a .12* n/a n/a n/a
3. Information given n/a n/a 0.34 0.48 n/a n/a .07 n/a
4. Gender of speaker 0.48 0.50 0.57 0.50 .10* −.02 n/a n/a
5. Type of product 0.48 0.50 n/a n/a −.11* −.32** n/a −.15**
Note: Sample 1 (below the diagonal) N (total) = 445, N (company choice) = 212, N (product choice) = 233. Sample 2 (above
the diagonal) N (total) = 100. Accent is a dichotomous variable representing differences between American English (1) and non-
American English (0) accents. Choice was measured by preference for the company/product promoted in the message (1) over a
company/product (0). Information given was measured by whether a participant provided his or her contact data to receive more
information from the company (1) or did not (0). Gender of speaker was coded as male (1) or female (0). Type of product was
measured as a coffee shop company (1) or computer book company (0).
*p < .05.
**p < .01.
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 11
speaker accent significantly (Wald = 3.66, p < .05) influenced choice. The odds ratio was 1.57,
suggesting that people in the standard American accent condition were one and a half times as
likely to choose the new company or product described in the message than those in the non-
native accent condition, supporting H1.3 The type of product was also significant (Wald =
40.80, p < .01) with an odds ratio of −0.25, indicating that participants in the product condition
(EZ Computers) were about four times as likely as those in the CT’s Coffee to choose the new
product over an existing competitor. Thus, Study 1 provides support for H1.
For Sample 2, results show that speaker accent also significantly (Wald = 5.72, p < .01)
affected the choice to provide one’s personal information, controlling for gender of the
speaker. The odds ratio of 3.15 suggests that individuals in the standard American accent
condition were about three times as likely to choose to give their personal information as
those in the nonnative accent conditions. Thus, Sample 2 results also provide support for
H1.
In Study 1, we found that participants who listened to a message describing a new cof-
fee shop or a new computer help book in an American accent chose the new company
significantly more frequently than participants who heard the messages spoken in a
Chinese or a French accent. They were also more than three times as likely to choose to
give their personal information to the new company. Notably, these results were not lim-
ited to social products such as a coffee shop, which may be affected by cultural biases.
Instead, the same accent effects were found using the more culturally neutral product of a
computer book.
While our results clearly show that nonnative accents have a negative effect on the
choices listeners make, they do not explain why nonnative accents have this effect. We
explore this question in Study 2 by investigating whether violations of expectations and/or
competence stereotypes explain the Study 1 findings that accents affect choice decisions
(H2 and H3).
Table 2
Logistic Regressions of the Influence of Accent on Company and Product Evaluation,
Study 1
New Company/Product Choice:
Sample 1
Providing Information to Company:
Sample 2
BWald Exp(B)BWald Exp(B)
Gender of speaker −0.33 2.31 0.72 0.58 1.54 1.79
Type of product −1.39 40.80** −0.25
Accent 0.45 3.66* 1.57 1.15 5.72** 3.15
χ2(3)(2) 50.69** 6.36*
Note: Accent is a dichotomous variable representing differences between American English (1) and non-American
English (0) accents. Behavioral choice was measured by preference for new company or product (1) over an
established competitor (0). Type of product refers to a computer book (0) or a coffee shop (1). Gender was coded
as female (1) or male (0).
*p < .05.
**p < .01 (one-tailed).
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12 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
Study 2
Method
Participants
The sample for this study consisted of 201 college students at a large southeastern univer-
sity, all of whom were native American English speakers and who correctly identified the
accents as being non-American. In all, 50% were female and the average age was 20 years
(ranging between 18 and 30); 72% identified themselves as Caucasian, 12% as Hispanic, 9%
as African American, and 7% as Asian.
Design and Procedure
Participants completed this study via an online survey tool in exchange for extra credit
points in their course. Participants first completed the informed consent form and then
answered a number of questions regarding their expectations about various events (e.g., win-
ners of football games, who owns a local company, etc.), one of which was about radio
advertisements. Of participants, 96% said that they would expect to hear an “American”
accent on the radio versus the other two options of “Spanish/Hispanic” or “Other.” Thus, it
seems that most participants expected to hear “nonaccented” speech in the company
message.
Next, approximately 15 minutes later, we gave them the identical cover story we used in
Study 1 to read. Finally, we randomly directed each participant into one of three conditions:
French accented message, Chinese accented message, and standard American accented mes-
sage delivered in a male voice. The message was the same as used in the prior studies describ-
ing CT’s Coffee. Participants then indicated whether they wanted to be entered into a lottery
drawing for a Starbucks gift card or a CT’s Coffee gift card and were also asked to provide
the company with their personal information if they chose to do so. Finally, participants indi-
cated the degree to which the message and the speaker accent were unexpected. Participants
were then debriefed via e-mail several weeks later.
Measures
Choice. To measure the degree to which the message influenced participants’ choice
behavior, we used the two measures used in Study 1. First, as in Sample 1, participants were
asked to choose between a gift certificate for CT’s Coffee and Starbucks. Those who chose
CT’s over Starbucks were coded 1, and the rest were coded 0. Second, as in Sample 2, partici-
pants were asked to provide the company with their personal information. Those who chose
to give information were coded as 1, and the rest were coded as 0.
Expectation violations. To assess whether participants’ expectations were violated, we
created an ad hoc measure, scored on a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree
to 5 = strongly agree that assessed whether the measure confirmed or disconfirmed partici-
pants’ expectations about the speaker’s accent. The scale included the following items: “I
was surprised to hear the accent of the speaker in the message I listened to,” “I did not expect
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 13
to hear this accent in the message,” “I didn’t notice the accent of the speaker in the mes-
sage” (r), “in the message, the speaker’s accent was unexpected to me,” “the accent of the
speaker was what I expected it to be” (r). To those we added several more general items about
whether the company message confirmed or disconfirmed their overall expectations: “CT’s
Coffee was presented as I expected it to be presented” (r), “The CT’s Coffee advertisement
was what I expected” (r), “CT’s Coffee didn’t live up to my expectations.” Coefficient alpha
reliability estimate for the entire scale was .87.
To ensure that participants were actually surprised by the accents (i.e., the accents violated
their expectations) and that this surprise was captured by our measure of expectation viola-
tions, we conducted a small validation study using 56 undergraduates (64% male, 59%
Caucasians, mean age = 20.5). We ran lab sessions with 4 to 6 participants; however, partici-
pants were seated in individual computer stations separated by a screen and wore head-
phones. The validation study used the same candidate selection scenario used in Study 3
spoken in an Indian (n = 28) or a standard American accent (n = 28). To validate the measure
of expectation violations we asked participants to answer the five questions of expectation
violations after they listened to the message and measured surprise by videotaping the facial
reactions of participants as they listened to the message.4 A graduate student who was blind
to the purpose of the study and the experimental conditions coded the facial expressions of
each participant within the first 10 seconds of listening to the message. These videos had no
volume, and the research assistant coded the facial expressions of participants for a surprise
reaction using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) method developed by Matsumoto
and Ekman (2007). Specifically, the FACS coding for surprise uses an indicator of brow
raise, upper-eye lid raise, lips part, jaw drop, and leaning in, and these surprise expressions
are coded on a scale of 0 = was not demonstrated, 1 = slightly demonstrated, and 2 = clearly
demonstrated.
The results of this validation study showed that the correlation between our measure of
expectation violations and the video coding of surprise using Ekman’s FACS method was
significant (r = .25, p < .05). In addition, the correlations between accent (1 = standard
American, 0 = Indian) and the measures of surprise (r = –.32, p < .01) and expectations viola-
tions (r = –.75, p < .01) were significant. These results suggest that indeed participants were
surprised by the non-American English accent and that this surprise was related to expecta-
tion violations.
Competence stereotypes. Stereotypes of the speaker’s competence were measured using
Edwards’s (1977) scale. Participants were asked to rate the speaker on a 7-point scale
between two bipolar adjectives for a number of items. Sample items included “intelligent/
unintelligent” and “competent/incompetent.” The coefficient alpha reliability estimate for
the scale was .84.
Results and Discussion
In this study we again utilized the same manipulation check that was used in Study 1 and
found that 94% of the participants correctly identified the speaker as having a standard
American accent or a nonnative accent. Thus, as before, the results of this study suggest that
our manipulation of accent was effective (the final N of 197 reflects only participants who
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14 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
correctly identified the nonnative accents). To confirm the appropriateness of combining the
French and Chinese accents to create one “nonnative accented” condition, we ran two z tests
comparing French and Chinese accents on the two dependent variables (company choice and
information given). Results indicated that there was no significant difference between the
French and Chinese accents on the two choices (zcompany choice = 0.79, ns; zinformation given = 0.86,
ns). Therefore, participants in the French and Chinese groups were combined to form a “non-
native accent” group for further analysis.
Means, standard deviations, and intercorrelations between the study variables are pre-
sented in Table 3. To test whether any of the two proposed mediators significantly mediated
the effect of accent on choice, we used a bootstrapping approach for multiple mediation
effects (see Hayes, 2013; Preacher & Hayes, 2004). In bootstrapping, a random sample is
drawn from the data set multiple times. In each random sample drawn, direct and indirect
effects and their standard errors are estimated. Thus, based on random sample drawn 10,000
times from the data set, we estimated the direct and indirect effects from accents through
expectation violations and competence stereotypes to choice.
The results of these analyses are presented in Table 4 and show that accent had a signifi-
cant effect on expectation violations (B = −1.19, p < .01) but not on competence stereotypes
(B = 0.24, ns). These results suggest that when the message was delivered in a standard
American accent it met listeners’ expectations, while when it was delivered in a non-Ameri-
can accent it violated participants’ expectations.
The indirect effect of accent on the first choice measure (choosing CT’s Coffee over
Starbucks), through the expectation violations mediator, was significant (B = 0.83, 95% CI =
0.07, 1.72). Similarly, the indirect effect through expectation violation on the second choice
(choosing to give one’s personal information) measure (B = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.11, 1.88) was
significant. In contrast, the indirect effect from speaker accent through competence stereo-
types was not significant for either choice measures. These results suggest that hearing a
speaker with a nonnative accent violated participants’ expectations, which then led to a
decreased tendency to choose the company over a known competitor. In contrast, accented-
ness did not influence individuals’ competence stereotypes about the speaker and
Table 3
Means, Standard Deviations, and Intercorrelations Among Study 2 Variables
M SD 1 2 3 4 5
1. Accent 0.27 0.45
2. Company choice 0.34 0.47 .14
3. Information given 0.19 0.39 .16* .70**
4. Expectation violation 2.67 0.80 −.70** .26** .26** (.72)
5. Speaker competence 4.60 1.18 .08 .19** .14 −.32** (.92)
Note: N = 197. Reliabilities are on the diagonal in parentheses. Accent is a dichotomous variable representing
differences between American English (1) and non-American English (0) accents. Company choice was measured
by preference for the company promoted in the message (1) over a competitor company (0). Information given was
measured by whether a participant provided his or her contact data to receive more information from the company.
*p < .05.
**p < .01.
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 15
competence stereotypes did not mediate the effect of accent on choice. Thus, H3 was sup-
ported, while H2 was not supported.
The results in this study replicate our previous finding that accent affects listeners’ choice
decisions, and, moreover, we show that expectation violations mediate this effect. Specifically,
when individuals expect to hear a message delivered in an American accent and instead they
hear the message delivered in a nonstandard accent, they choose the company, and to be
potentially contacted by the company, to a lesser degree. In contrast, we did not find support
for the hypothesis that competence stereotypes mediated the accent on choice relationship.
Thus, it does not seem that hearing an accented speaker spurs stereotypes about the speaker’s
competence.
Study 3: Moderating Mechanism: The Role of Implicit Bias
In the prior two studies we tested the relationship between accentedness and choice. In
Study 2 we introduced two possible mediators of the reduced choice effect following accented
messages and found support for expectation violations as the process by which accent influ-
ences choice. Because accents did not affect choice through competence stereotypes, in this
section we introduce a boundary condition for the influence of accents on choice through
expectation violations.
People tend to classify others into in- and out-groups based on diversity indicators such as
gender and race and even more rudimentary cues, such as job titles or college affiliation
Table 4
Bootstrapping Regressions of the Influence of Accent on Choice, Study 2
Company Choice Information Given
Effect SE t/W/CI Effect SE t/W/CI
IV to mediators
Expectation violation −1.19 0.09 −13.14** −1.19 0.09 −13.14**
Speaker competence 0.24 0.18 1.33 0.24 0.18 1.33
Mediator to DV
Expectation violation −0.69 0.31 4.96* −0.80 0.36 4.86*
Speaker competence 0.22 0.16 2.01 0.11 0.18 0.36
Effects of accent on DV
Total 0.70 0.33 4.40* 0.93 0.38 5.93*
Direct −0.14 0.48 0.08 −0.01 0.55 0.00
Indirect effects of accent on DV through mediators
Expectations violation 0.83 (0.07, 1.72) 0.96 (0.11, 1.88)
Speaker competence 0.05 (–0.02, 0.26) 0.03 (–0.05, 0.27)
Note: Accent is a dichotomous variable representing differences between American English (1) and non-American
English (0) accents. Company choice was measured by preference for the company (1) over a competitor (0).
Information given was measured by whether contact data were provided (1) or not provided (0). The relationships
between IV and mediator tested with a t test; all other relationships with dichotomous DVs were tested with a Wald
test (W). Indirect effects were tested with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
*p < .05.
**p < .01 (two-tailed).
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16 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
(Fiske & Taylor, 1991). However, the degree to which individuals prefer the in-group or
attach negative associations to an out-group is often dependent on preexisting attitudes that
people hold about the in- and out-group. In general, a preexisting attitude about others serves
as a prototypic “reference point” (Rosch, 1975) to which a new category member is com-
pared, and if he or she is similar enough to the prototype, the same judgments that are attrib-
uted to the prototype will be extended to the new category member (Dovidio, Evans, & Tyler,
1986). In other words, if people hold predetermined positive attitudes about things “American”
and a nonaccented message is determined to be “American,” it will likely be categorized as
“positive.” In contrast, if the same people hold negative attitudes about things “non-Ameri-
can” and an accented message is determined to belong to the category of “non-American
things,” it will also likely be categorized as “negative.”
Indeed, in-group favoritism is a highly pervasive phenomenon (Brewer, 1979; Brewer &
Kramer, 1985) and is a core concept of social identity theory (Turner, 1982). According to
social identity theory, in-group favoritism is a means of preserving a positive differentiation
of the in-group from out-groups. Social identity theory’s main argument is that the tendency
to favor in-group members is a strategy of self-enhancement of the individual’s self-concept
(Tajfel & Turner, 1986). As such, a cue, such as an accent, that a person belongs to a different
group may lead to denigration of this person just because this person does not belong to the
in-group. This may especially apply to those who more strongly identify with the in-group,
namely those who hold a pro-American bias.
When individuals have to make judgments about objects or people, according to Tesser’s
(1978) attitude polarization model, the more developed their schemas are about the entity of
the evaluation the more extreme their evaluations are. In other words, when people have
strong views and well-developed schemas about in- or out-groups, they should have more
extreme evaluations of in- or out-group members. This is especially true when individuals in
these groups deviate from the normative expectations (Marques et al., 1988). Accordingly,
because those who have a pro-American bias have a strong preference for Americans and
therefore hold strong expectations about their behaviors, deviations from these expectations
(i.e., accent) should make their evaluations more extreme and less favorable. Thus, we expect
those who have a pro-American bias to exhibit in-group favoritism toward Americans and
that these evaluations will be accompanied by strong and clear expectations about what is
“American.” In turn, when those expectations are violated, those with a pro-American bias
would have extreme and unfavorable reactions to those who violated the expectations. In
contrast, those who do not hold a pro-American bias should not have strong expectations
about what constitutes “American,” and therefore their favorability evaluations should not be
affected by accents.
Research has shown that categorization based on preexisting prototypes is often carried
out with fast reaction time, nonconsciously, and automatically (e.g., Bargh, 1994; Devine,
1989; Dovidio et al., 1986; Perdue & Gurtman, 1990). Accordingly, research suggests that
many prototypical biases may operate as implicit cognitions (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995).
While explicit attitudes such as clear negative views of certain groups generally were not
found to have strong and consistent effects on behaviors, implicit attitudes toward these
groups predicted both evaluations and actual behavior (e.g., Maison, Greenwald, & Bruin,
2004; Ziegert & Hanges, 2005). Recent meta-analytic evidence suggests that one of the main
reasons that implicit indicators seem to be better than explicit attitudes at predicting behav-
ioral outcomes is because implicit attitudes may not be as susceptible as explicit attitudes to
the scrutiny of social sensitivity concerns (Greenwald, Poehlman, Uhlmann, & Banaji, 2009).
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 17
Thus, given that explicit pro-American/anti-non-American attitudes may be socially
undesirable, we test whether the indirect effect between accentedness and choice via expecta-
tion violations is moderated or conditioned by implicit pro-American bias. We present one’s
implicit pro-American bias as an individual difference variable, which is consistent with past
research that conceptualized attitudinal biases as stable across time and situations (e.g.,
Cunningham, Preacher, & Banaji, 2001; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998; see
Karpinski & Hilton, 2001, for an exception).5 As such, it stands to reason that those who hold
a stronger pro-American implicit bias will also be less likely to conform their choices to
recommendations made by accented speakers than those who hold these implicit pro-Amer-
ican biases to a lesser degree. Thus, we present the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 4 (H4): The effect of accentedness on choice, as mediated by expectation violations, will
be moderated by implicit pro-American bias, such that the expectations of those with a pro-
American bias will be violated while the expectations of those with no pro-American bias will
not be affected, when hearing a non-American accent.
In this study, we also made a few changes to the design in order to address several alterna-
tive explanations to the interpretations of the results of the previous two studies. Initially
French and Mandarin Chinese were chosen as manipulated accents because they are linguis-
tically distinct (Halle et al., 2004; Riegel, 1968). Yet, in this third study we aim to investigate
whether the found results replicate when using other stimulus accents. In fact, the use of only
Chinese and French accents in the previous two studies might limit our ability to confidently
claim that the effect of accent on choice decisions is truly the result of standard versus non-
native accented speech, and not merely related to these two specific accents. Thus, in Study
3 we added two additional accents, an Indian and a British accent, albeit for two different
reasons. First, we wanted to investigate whether the effect would hold when including an
accent with which our participants would likely be more familiar. The Indian population in
the United States has grown 38% from 2000 to 2005, and is the fastest growing ethnic group
after Hispanic Americans (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006). Furthermore, Indian employees often
work for call centers that are located in India (e.g., Friedman, 2005; Lakshmi, 2005; 60
Minutes, 2004) but service American consumers. Also, while our results showed a consistent
negative accent effect on choice decisions across two studies, it is possible that some accents
(e.g., a British accent) that are potentially perceived by Americans as “highly sophisticated”
would not show such negative effects on choice; indeed, they may have the opposite effect
on choice. Thus, if we find consistent results for the effect of nonnative accents on choice
using accents that are (a) more common and (b) perceived more positively, we will add fur-
ther credence to the generalizability of our findings and the conclusions that may be drawn
from them.
In addition, a possibility exists that nonnative accents violated expectations because they
were delivered using audio media in a more formal manner. That is, participants may have
expected to hear a standard American accent in a formal message from an American com-
pany. However, if they had seen the person delivering the message and this person had cer-
tain “racio-ethnic characteristics” (e.g., skin color cues), his or her accent may not necessarily
violate their expectations. In other words, an alternative explanation to our results may be
that accents themselves do not violate expectations per se; rather, they violate expectations
only when they are not accompanied by other ethnic indicators. If this alternative explanation
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18 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
is correct, then the results of the previous studies will be limited to the relatively few situa-
tions where a person delivering a message is completely unknown to and unseen by the lis-
tener. Thus, to preclude this alternative explanation, we include a condition in which the
photos of the speakers were presented to the listeners prior to message delivery.
Finally, in the previous two studies we investigated the influence of accents on listeners’
choice in the context of buying a product or choosing to patronize a company. Although we
believe that managers often make consumption and purchasing decisions within the scope of
their job, broadening the operationalization of choice and triangulating our findings can fur-
ther support the generalizability of our results. Thus, in Study 3, we test our hypotheses using
a more core management decision of choosing a candidate for a job.
Method
Participants
A total of 117 students enrolled in a large required undergraduate management course at
a southeastern university participated in this study, which was conducted online. Participants
ranged in age from 18 to 46, with an average age of 21. Of the sample, 31% were male. Of
the participants, 70% identified themselves as Caucasian, 5.6% as African American, 8.5%
as Asian/Pacific Islander, and 9.2% as Hispanic, and 6.3% did not indicate their race or
selected “other.” All participants were native American English speakers.
Design and Procedure
In this study we tested three accents: standard American, Indian, and British. As noted, we
also included a “photo” condition for all three accents in which we manipulated whether a
photo associated with the speaker was shown or not shown to the participants prior to the
recorded message, thus constituting a 3 (accents) × 2 (photo yes/no) design. Participants
were first given the implicit bias test online.6 About a week later, they were e-mailed another
online questionnaire. In this survey, they were first either shown a photo, or not, and then
asked to read a scenario:
As you know, the College of Business has a career success center that helps students with career
planning, resume preparation and the development of interview skills. The career success center
also facilitates internship and employment opportunities for companies and helps them with
their recruitment activities on the University campus. You have been asked to be the student
representative on the selection committee of a new career counselor in the college of business’s
career success center. You will help to decide the best candidate for this role. You will next listen
to the reason one of the applicants gives the selection committee for why he should be hired as a
new career success center coordinator:
Participants then listened to a message from the job candidate delivered in either a stan-
dard American, Indian, or British accent. Participants then indicated whether the candidate
would be a good choice to hire for the job and answered a series of questions about him. The
message was ostensibly a voicemail message left by the applicant stating why he would be a
good career success center coordinator.
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 19
I think I would be a great coordinator for the Career Success Center. I love working with students,
helping them create effective resumes and helping them with their interviewing skills. I am very
good at designing eye-catching ads, I would also be good at scheduling when companies can
come to interview and to arrange meeting room space, parking passes, and all those administrative
tasks since I am a very detail oriented person. The networking part of the job will be a little more
difficult, but that is not a very large or important part of the role. Interacting with students I feel
is where the bulk of the energy should be spent, and that is what I am really great at.
Finally, participants completed a demographic questionnaire and a manipulation check
and were debriefed.
Measures
Choice. In this study, choice was assessed using the average of two items (rated yes/no):
“Do you believe the speaker is the right choice for the career success center?” and “Do you
think the speaker is an appropriate career success center coordinator?” The coefficient alpha
reliability estimate was .84.
Expectation violations. To assess whether participants’ expectations were violated, we
used the prior eight-item measure. Coefficient alpha reliability estimate was .71.
Competence stereotypes. We used the same stereotype scales as those used in Study 2. The
coefficient alpha reliability estimate for the competence scale was .81.
Implicit pro-American bias. We assessed implicit pro-American bias using the Implicit
Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, 2006). In order to create an IAT tool that fit the require-
ment of our study, we used a generic IAT creator from Greenwald (2006). This IAT assessed
people’s underlying attitude to people nonnative to America using names seen as tradition-
ally “American” and those that are not traditional, or that are “foreign.” Thus, similar to
De Houwer (2001), who created a British versus foreign name IAT, our study used stereo-
typically “nonnative” names (e.g., Ramakanth Mudumba, Jiang Liu) versus “Americanized”
names (e.g., John Smith, Mark Johnson).
Participants had to complete practice blocks and test blocks. The practice blocks had only
names or adjectives to classify, and the test blocks required participants to classify both
names and adjectives simultaneously. For instance, when a name popped up on the computer
screen, participants were asked to categorize this name as American or non-American.
Likewise, when an adjective popped up (i.e., friendly, ignorant), participants were asked to
categorize this adjective into the categories of pleasant or unpleasant. In the first test block,
the program alternated names and adjectives, and participants had to use the same key for
“pleasant” and for “American” (e.g., “d”) or for “unpleasant” and for “non-American” (e.g.,
“k”). In the second test block, participants had to use the same keys for “unpleasant” and for
“American,” and then for “pleasant” and for “non-American.” The test blocks were ran-
domly counterbalanced, such that some participants had the “unpleasant/American” test
block presented first and others had the “pleasant/American” test block presented first. The
statistic utilized in this study is a D-score with a built-in error penalty (i.e., “d-biep”). A
higher generated d-biep statistic indicated less pro-American bias (i.e., less antiforeign bias).
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20 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
To ensure that any effects reflect actual implicit attitudes and are not primed by the accented
messages themselves, we assessed implicit attitudes one week prior to participation in the
second part of the study.
Results
In this study we again utilized the same manipulation check that was used in both prior
studies and found that 92% of the participants correctly identified the speaker as having a
standard American accent or a nonnative accent. Thus, as before, these results suggest that
our manipulation of accent was effective (the final N of 99 reflects only those who are native
American speakers, who correctly identified the nonnative accents, and who completed both
surveys).
In order to test the alternative explanation that the lack of any prior knowledge about the
speaker led to the accent influence on choice, we presented half of the participants (randomly
assigned) with a photograph of a fairly attractive male in each of the accent conditions and
told them that this was the speaker of the message they were about to hear.7 ANOVAs with
the choice measure as the dependent variable and the photo condition (photo versus no photo)
as the independent variable for each accent showed that there was no difference between the
photo and no-photo conditions in the Indian accent, F(1, 35) = 2.98, ns, the British accent,
F(1, 47) = 0.15, ns, or the American accent, F(1, 33) = 0.19, ns, conditions. An ANOVA with
accent and photo condition as the independent variables showed that there was also no sig-
nificant photo with accent interaction across accents, F(1, 99) = 1.25, ns. Thus, it seems that
making participants visually aware that the speaker might or might not have a foreign accent
did not affect listeners’ choice decisions. The photo and the no photo conditions were thus
combined for all further analyses.
Again, to confirm the appropriateness of combining the British and Indian accents to cre-
ate one “nonnative accent” condition, we ran a t test comparing British and Indian accents on
the dependent variable (candidate choice). Results indicated that there was no significant
difference between the British and Indian accents on candidate choice (t = 0.40, ns). Therefore,
participants in the British and Indian groups were combined to form a “nonnative accent”
group for further analysis.
Means, standard deviations, and intercorrelations among study variables are presented in
Table 5. We hypothesized that expectation violations will mediate the relationship between
accent and choice decisions. However, here we also hypothesized that implicit bias would
moderate the relationship between expectation violations and choice decisions. Therefore, in
the full model we tested the influence of accent on choice decisions, as mediated by expecta-
tion violation and, in turn, the relationship between expectation violations and choice as
moderated by implicit bias (e.g., second stage moderation).8 The model was tested using the
PROCESS procedure recommended by Hayes (2013). Table 6 presents the results of this
analysis and shows that accent (coded as 1 for American and 0 for non-American) was nega-
tively related to expectation violation (–0.72, p < .01), suggesting that when participants
listened to the candidate speak with an accent their expectations were violated. Implicit bias
was negatively related to choice decisions (–2.48, p < .01), indicating that those who had a
pro-American bias (those with low numbers) tended to make more positive decisions about
the candidate than those with less pro-American bias (those with high numbers). However,
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 21
these positive decisions were made only for those with American accents (r = –.41, p < .05)
and not for those with a non-American accent (r = .01, ns). These results suggest that those
with pro-American bias are truly pro-American for those with an American accent and not
necessarily antiforeign for those with a non-American accent.
While the relationship between expectation violations and choice decisions only
approached significance (0.37, p < .10), the interaction between expectation violations and
implicit bias was significant in affecting choice decisions. A conditional indirect effect
showed that the path from accent to choice decisions through expectation violations was
Table 5
Means, Standard Deviations, and Intercorrelations Among Study 3 Variables
M SD 1 2 3 4 5
1. Accent 0.30 0.46
2. Implicit pro-American bias −0.69 0.30 .02
3. Expectation violation 3.24 0.85 −.62** .02 (.82)
4. Speaker competence 3.81 0.58 −.02 −.04 .04 (.81)
5. Candidate choice 0.65 0.45 .08 −.11 −.07 .18* (.84)
Note: N = 99. Accent is a dichotomous variable representing differences between American English (1) and non-
American English (0) accents. Implicit pro-American bias is coded as lower when participants have bias and higher
when they do not have bias.
*p < .05.
**p < .01.
Table 6
Moderated Mediation Effects of the Influence of Accent on Candidate Choice,
Study 3
Effect SE t/z/CI
Mediator model Expectation Violations
Accent −0.72 0.10 –7.22**
Speaker competence 0.17 0.10 1.78
DV model Candidate Choice
Accent −0.09 0.12 −0.78
Expectations violation (EV) 0.37 0.22 1.67
Speaker competence 0.18 0.09 2.15*
Implicit pro-American bias (IB) −2.48 1.02 −2.44*
EV × IB 0.65 0.29 2.24*
Conditional indirect effects of accent on choice through EV
High pro-American bias 0.20 0.11 (0.02, 0.43)
Low pro-American bias −0.09 0.09 (–0.29, 0.08)
Note: Accent is a dichotomous variable representing differences between American English (1) and non-American
English (0) accents.
p < .10.
*p < .05.
**p < .01 (two-tailed).
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22 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
significant for those with pro-American bias (0.20, p < .05) but not for those with no pro-
American bias (–0.09, ns). These results suggest that upon hearing a non-American accent
the expectations of those with pro-American bias were violated and these expectation viola-
tions led to less positive choice decisions about the candidate. In contrast, no such effects
were exhibited for those with no pro-American bias. Thus, H4 was supported.
Discussion
Several of the design components of the previous two studies were changed in this study.
The nonnative accents used were Indian and British, the dependent variable was choice of the
candidate, and a photo condition was added. Nonetheless, the results of this study were virtu-
ally identical to the findings of the previous two studies. A message that was delivered in a
standard American accent had a distinct advantage over a message that was delivered in a
nonnative accent, resulting in a more favorable choice decision by listeners. In general, this
study showed that the effect of accents on choice decisions is very robust. Despite the fact
that Indian accents are quite familiar to an American audience because of the relative increase
of people of Indian origin in the population and the use of Indian call centers by American
companies, a candidate with an Indian accent was chosen less frequently to fill the job in the
university career center. Similarly, a British accent, although potentially perceived as more
sophisticated and attractive, had the same effect on candidate choice by listeners. Moreover,
the photo conditions were not significantly different from the conditions in which the listener
was presented with spoken messages alone, suggesting that the effects of accent on choice
can be extended to face-to-face interactions. By testing a different choice scenario, we found
that the effects discovered in Studies 1 and 2 regarding choice are not limited to consump-
tion-type choices. Instead, the results of this study suggested that accents affect choice deci-
sions related to core management issues such as selection decisions. Thus, the findings of this
study clearly show that nonnative accents may present a disadvantage to those who are in
situations of trying to influence others.
At the same time, the results of this study demonstrated that there is at least one boundary
condition to the robustness of these findings. Individuals who held stronger pro-American
implicit biases were much more positively disposed toward the native accented speakers than
those who had lower pro-American biases. In addition, we found support for a moderated media-
tion model, such that if an individual with high pro-American bias hears a standard American
accent, his or her expectations are met and a favorable choice decision follows. In contrast, if this
person hears an accented message his or her expectations are violated and an unfavorable choice
decision is made. This effect is not observed among individuals with low pro-American bias.
These results suggest that the influence of nonnative accents on choice may not be univer-
sal, and may be limited to those who are more biased toward “Americans.” With that said, the
implicit nature of the bias suggests that individuals may not be aware of their tendency to
discriminate against those with a nonnative accent. Organizations that want to control and
reduce discrimination against people with nonnative accents may thus find it difficult to do so.
General Discussion
In three experimental studies, we found that individuals chose a favorable outcome for a
new company, new product, or new employee significantly less often after hearing
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 23
advocating messages from nonnative accented speakers as opposed to from speakers with
standard American accents. We found support for a mediating mechanism of expectation
violations to explain why accented messages result in choices that conform to the message
content less frequently. Moreover, we found support for the moderating mechanism of
implicit pro-American bias, such that those individuals who hold a stronger pro-American
bias are even more likely to approve of its content when spoken by American speakers who
do not speak with a foreign accent.
A plausible explanation for our results comes from the expectancy theory perspective
(Burgoon & Miller, 1985). Nonstandard accented messages may violate expectations regard-
ing business norms and may therefore be distracting to listeners. Indeed, results in Study 2
support the hypothesis that individuals’ expectations are violated when they hear messages
given by nonnative accented speakers, which in turn explained the reduced choice of prod-
ucts advocated by individuals who spoke with a nonnative accent. These results support
EVT, such that when expectation violations occur, persuasion is reduced (e.g., Burgoon,
1995; Burgoon & Hale, 1988). These results were qualified in Study 3, which showed that
when participants heard a job applicant with a non-American accent advocate for the job
opening the expectations of those with a higher pro-American bias were violated and these
expectation violations led to less positive choice decisions about the accented candidate.
These listeners with a higher pro-American bias recommended the nonaccented candidate
significantly more frequently than they did the accented applicant, while no such a choice
preference was exhibited by their low pro-American bias counterparts. These findings help
to extend language expectancy theory (Burgoon & Miller, 1985) by demonstrating that vio-
lated expectations regarding language can affect successful persuasion in general and can
result in real choices, particularly among those with domain-relevant implicit biases.
The moderating effects of implicit bias (Study 3) suggest that implicit attitudes may be a
fruitful avenue for future research on topics influenced by diversity indicators. Our findings
showed that those individuals who hold a stronger pro-American bias were more likely to
make a choice consistent with the American speaker than those individuals who hold a lower
pro-American bias. While implicit bias is a construct that has not often been integrated in the
management literature (see Ziegert & Hanges, 2005, for an exception), our current research
suggests the importance of implicit bias in trying to understand and predict others’ persuasion
and choice behaviors. The incorporation of implicit bias in empirical work on management
topics may hold promise for future research on workplace diversity topics, especially in the
realm of accents and national origin, which is an understudied yet increasingly growing
workplace reality (Johnston & Packer, 1987; U.S. Census Bureau, 1999).
Interestingly, while we found that accentedness affects choice through expectation viola-
tions as we hypothesized, we did not find support for mediation through competence stereo-
types formed of the speaker. Even though recent research by Huang and colleagues (2013)
suggests that individuals with nonnative accents may be passed over for promotion because of
stereotyping regarding ability or competence, our empirical test of perceptions of competence
of the speaker found no support for the competence stereotyping explanation for reduced
choice. Given that research on the effects of accentedness in the workplace is elusive, there is
a great opportunity for scholars to sort out when and how accentedness has effects on a wider
realm of organizationally relevant outcomes, and why these effects may be found. Future
research should try and determine whether and under what conditions stereotyping may indeed
link accents to choice or other management criteria to help us ascertain the effects of
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24 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
accentedness in the workplace and help to curb the possible negative effects. For example, the
longevity of a personal relationship might attenuate the effects of accent-based stereotyping.
When coworkers and managers have ongoing positive interactions with individuals who speak
with nonnative accents, those accents might cease to violate one’s expectations of a “good”
American employee.
Implications
Our results have several important implications for management in organizations. In the
first two studies, we conceptualize choice in a consumption context: will individuals choose
a product or company if it has been presented in a nonnative accent? We found support for
our hypothesis that accented messages result in decreased choice consistent with the message
content. To confirm its applicability to other forms of managerial choice, we not only
employed several distinct indicators of choice in Studies 1 and 2, we also triangulated our
findings using a candidate choice scenario in Study 3 and found consistent support for our
conjectures. If choice is indeed negatively influenced by listening to nonnative accented
messages, these results have serious implications for organizations, especially for the many
that participate in the globalization and internationalization of their business practices.
Choice decisions are important for both organizations in general and managers in particu-
lar. Investors, potential business partners, consumers, and job applicants often make choices
among multiple available companies, and therefore companies continually work to ensure
that their own products, goods, services, or the organization itself are the ones selected.
Spoken messages are one of the major communication methods used in companies to influ-
ence individual listeners in sales pitches, negotiations, recruitment gatherings, company
meetings, and group brainstorming and decision-making situations. Although future research
should investigate the effects of accents using other contexts of choice and types of deci-
sions, we expect that accents would affect the choice process in similar ways as described
and supported in our studies. Multiple accents in our studies had very similar effects on a
variety of choice outcomes and situations, suggesting that the effects of accents on choice are
quite generalizable.
The results of this series of studies suggest that the preference for nonaccented speech by
native American English speakers could potentially disadvantage business representatives
from other countries or employees with accents. As the U.S. population becomes more ethni-
cally diverse (Johnston & Packer, 1987; U.S. Census Bureau, 1999), employees will need to
increasingly interact with individuals who speak English with a wide variety of accents.
Thus, accents may even affect the business transactions of companies who only deal domes-
tically within the United States. For instance, company decision makers often must listen to
a number of sales presentations from suppliers or consultants before signing contracts. Our
research suggests that the accent in which such messages are delivered may affect whether
one is awarded such a contract. Recent research has suggested that, even for people with
racial bias, interventions may reduce the effect of such bias on performance ratings (Baltes,
Bauer, & Frensch, 2007). Hence, future research might employ similar interventions that
may reduce the bias that we found in the accent–choice relationship. A focus on the reduction
or elimination of accent-driven effects in managerial contexts is a promising avenue for
future research.
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Livingston et al. / Accents and Choice 25
Limitations and Future Research
As is true for all studies, this research also has several limitations. First, the messages we
used throughout all three studies were positive messages—either positive about the company
being presented or positive about the candidate presenting himself. It is possible that negative
messages delivered by speakers using standard or nonnative accents will have different
results on choice and on expectation violations.
In the current set of studies, we did not explore ways to attenuate or possibly counter the
accent on choice effect. As in any other study, we had to balance comprehensiveness with
parsimony, and thus we chose to explore the “problems” (i.e., a bias that might exacerbate the
effect) and not the “solutions.” However, future research on accentedness would be well
served in examining interventions which could reduce the negative effects of accents on
choice and decision making. For instance, research by Derwing, Rossiter, and Munro (2002)
noted that cross-cultural awareness training that included instruction on attitudes toward and
comprehension of accented speech tended to make students more confident about interacting
with accented speakers and in their ability to understand nonnative accents.
Our results also open up other promising avenues for future research. Our three studies
used relatively formal, audio forms of communication—recorded business advertisements
and recorded candidate “pitches”—which may be more strongly affected by norms and thus
expectation violations, leading to negative choice decisions. Similarly, although we pre-
sented photographs of the “speakers” of the message in Study 3, in our current series of stud-
ies we did not test our hypotheses in a live interaction between speaker and listener. As such,
future research may help to determine if our findings would manifest in situations that
involve extended face-to-face interactions. Research suggests that contact with racial minori-
ties, for instance, can reduce prejudice (under certain conditions; Binder et al., 2009; Sigelman
& Welch, 1993). Would this hold true regarding nonnative accented speech? These inquiries
may open new and interesting avenues for future research.
Moreover, in our current work we did not study the effect of regional American accents.
This would be a promising avenue for future work since research on accents suggests that
bias against accented speakers occurs both within dialects of the same language and across
language groups (Giles, 1972; Luhman, 1990; Papapavlou, 1998). Moreover, future work
may investigate alternative outcomes of accentedness (e.g., interpersonal helping or counter-
productive behaviors), which may also produce intriguing results and help extend the span of
influence of the accent effect to other meaningful workplace outcomes. Furthermore,
although many meaningful indicators of group differences are directly observable (e.g., gen-
der, race) and frequently explored in the organizational literature, others like accent may not
be immediately clear. However, as our studies show, accent still has significant effects on
important managerial outcomes. Hence, explicitly including nonnative accents in theories
concerning organizational diversity may be timely and important: Indeed, our three studies
showed that it is not only what one says but also how one says it that seems to make a
difference.
Notes
1. Following Huang, Frideger, and Pearce (2013), we define a “nonnative” or “nonstandard” American English
accent as the retention of the phonology of the speaker’s native language even after the speaker has achieved control
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26 Journal of Management / Month XXXX
over the grammar and pronunciation of English. In this research, “standard American English” accent is similar to
the “neutral” accents one might expect to hear from Midwestern American or Western American newscasters. Thus,
for the purpose of this study, Mandarin Chinese, French, Indian, and British accents (described later) are typical of a
speaker who is not a native American English speaker, but speaks English with proper grammar and pronunciation,
even as he or she retains the tone and phonology of his or her native language.
2. Though we did not conduct comprehensive investigations as to the veracity of the provided information,
review of the contact information given did not reveal any blatant falsifications (e.g., “555” numbers or street names
that did not seem local).
3. Supplementary analyses using heteroscedasticity-consistent standard errors confirmed the robustness of our
findings. These results are available from the first author.
4. Participants were not aware that they were videotaped, and the recording started as they pushed the play
button to listen to the message. However, all participants were informed at the end of the study in the debriefing
section that they were videotaped and were given the opportunity to delete the video. None of the participants chose
to withdraw the videotape.
5. We note, however, that the “implicit” part of “implicit bias” does not refer to the attitudes or biases themselves
(i.e., the constructs) as being implicit, but rather it refers to the nature of the measures utilized to assess the attitudes
(Fazio & Olson, 2003).
6. To ensure that the results in Study 2 were not from a priming effect due to the questions asked regarding one’s
expectations in a radio advertisement (see the Design and Procedure section of Study 2), we did not ask any ques-
tions prior to participants listening to the message and recording their responses to the DVs.
7. These photos were retrieved from www.shutterstock.com with the keyword of an Indian, British, or American
attractive male student. Specific photos used are available from the first author. A small sample of graduate students
and faculty of a northeastern university (N = 10; 5 female, 3 international) rated the photos for attractiveness on a
scale ranging from 1 = not at all attractive to 5 = very attractive). The average ratings were Indian: M = 3.70, SD =
0.48; American: M = 3.40, SD = 0.84; British: M = 3.10, SD = 0.99. A one-way ANOVA demonstrated no significant
differences among the groups, F(2, 29) = 1.40, ns.
8. Study 2 results showed that speaker competence did not mediate the relationship between accent and choice
decisions. Similarly, the correlation between accent and speaker competence in this study was –.02 (ns), suggesting
no mediation effect. A bootstrap regression with 10,000 iterations showed no mediation effect of speaker compe-
tence. Therefore, we did not include speaker competence as a mediator, but we controlled for it in the model. Results
with and without competence in the model were virtually identical.
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... In addition, 45% of identified papers focused solely on male speakers, and 3% focused solely on female speakers (32% included both male and female speakers). Thus, compared with the other two literatures reviewed above, the organizational sciences literature has been highly focused on non-native accents with little exploration of regional accents, and the knowledge accumulated to date is derived more from male speakers compared with the other two literatures.Although a large proportion of research on accents in the organizational sciences have also been experimental in nature (61%), research designs and methods used have been more varied in this literature, including qualitative interviews (seeNeeley, 2013, for an example), field surveys (seeKim et al., 2019, for an example), and observations (seeHuang et al., 2013, for an example where one specific type of observations, i.e., entrepreneurial pitches were coded).However, within the still prevalent experimental work, methods are generally similar to methods in social psychology (e.g., use of different speakers and race/ethnicity of speakers not always held constant across conditions; seeLivingston et al., 2017, for an example of an experiment in this literature). Finally, in addition to student samples, this literature frequently uses employees as participants, including human resource professionals and managers (seeCarlson & McHenry, 2006, for an example of using human resource workers). ...
... ;Fuertes et al. (2012);Huang et al. (2013);Livingston et al. (2017);Roessel et al. (2017); Timming (2016)Adank et al. (2009);Bradlow and Bent (2008);Carlson and McHenry (2006);Dragojevic and Giles (2016);Floccia et al. (2009); Lev-Ari and Keysar(2010)Influence on intrapersonal outcomesOverview -Ten percent of research in this review has examined the effect of stereotypes on intrapersonal outcomes for speakers with non-native accents -Thirty-three percent comes from the communication literature, 40% from social psychology, and 27% from organizational sciences -Seventy-three percent of the papers used interview methodology -Forty-seven percent of the papers were U.S.-based papers -Twenty-seven percent of the papers used student samples (60% employee samples; the rest is not clear on who participants are or adults with no indications of whether they work or not) -Five percent of research has examined the effect of processing fluency and challenges on intrapersonal outcomes for speakers with non-native accents -Forty-two percent comes from the communication literature, 29% from social psychology, and 29% from organizational sciences -Fifty-seven percent of the papers used interview methodology -Twenty-nine percent of the papers were U.S.-based papers -Forty-three percent of the papers used student samples (43% employee samples; the rest is not clear on who participants are or adults with no indications of whether they work or not) (Continues) groups, recent work byRoessel et al. (2017) argues that certain basic and negative stereotypes are triggered by non-native accents generally, regardless of the origin of accent or national stereotypes. This is in line with the majority of past research on accents, which typically finds similar negative reactions to speakers with non-native English accents irrespective of the origin of non-native accent. ...
... This is in line with the majority of past research on accents, which typically finds similar negative reactions to speakers with non-native English accents irrespective of the origin of non-native accent. In other words, prior work often does not uncover differences between non-native accents that are presumably stereotyped quite differently (e.g., Chinese vs. French accent;Livingston et al., 2017). ...
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For decades, the fundamental processes underlying memory and attention have been understood within an "information processing" framework in which information passes from one processing stage to another, leading eventually to a response. More recently, however, the attempt to build a general theoretical framework for information processing has been largely supplanted in favor of two more recent approaches: mathematical models of processing and direct investigations of brain function. This book reconciles theoretical conflicts in the literature to present an important, analytical update of the traditional information-processing approach by modifying it to incorporate the last few decades of research on memory, attention, and brain functioning. Throughout, the book cogently considers and ultimately refutes recent challenges to the fundamental assumption of the existence of special short-term memory and selective attention faculties. It also draws a key distinction between memory processes operating inside and outside of the focus of attention. The book hopes to foster an understanding of how memory and attention operate together, and how both functions are produced by brain processes.
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Three studies tested basic assumptions derived from a theoretical model based on the dissociation of automatic and controlled processes involved in prejudice. Study 1 supported the model's assumption that high- and low-prejudice persons are equally knowledgeable of the cultural stereotype. The model suggests that the stereotype is automatically activated in the presence of a member (or some symbolic equivalent) of the stereotyped group and that low-prejudice responses require controlled inhibition of the automatically activated stereotype. Study 2, which examined the effects of automatic stereotype activation on the evaluation of ambiguous stereotype-relevant behaviors performed by a race-unspecified person, suggested that when subjects' ability to consciously monitor stereotype activation is precluded, both high- and low-prejudice subjects produce stereotype-congruent evaluations of ambiguous behaviors. Study 3 examined high- and low-prejudice subjects' responses in a consciously directed thought-listing task. Consistent with the model, only low-prejudice subjects inhibited the automatically activated stereotype-congruent thoughts and replaced them with thoughts reflecting equality and negations of the stereotype. The relation between stereotypes and prejudice and implications for prejudice reduction are discussed.
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This study theoretically and empirically addresses the possible separation of substance and symbolism in CEO compensation contracts by examining political and institutional determinants of long-term incentive plan (LTIP) adoption and use among 570 of the largest U.S. corporations over two decades. We find that a substantial number of firms are likely to adopt but not actually use-or only limitedly use-LTIPs, suggesting a potential separation of substance and symbol in CEO compensation contracts. Analyses suggest that this decoupling of LTIP adoption and use is particularly prevalent in firms with powerful CEOs and firms with poor prior performance. Further analyses show that whereas early adopters are more likely to pursue alignment between CEO and shareholder interests substantively, later adopters may pursue legitimacy by symbolically controlling agency costs. More generally, the study highlights how decoupling in organizations can be understood in terms of both micro-political and macro-institutional forces.