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This article analyses the influence of accent on discrimination against immigrants by examining the hypothesis that accent leads to discrimination only in more prejudiced individuals, merely because people speaking with a native accent are perceived to be better qualified than those whose accent is non-standard. In Study 1 (N = 71), we found that only prejudiced individuals use accent to discriminate against immigrants. In Study 2 (N = 124), we replicated this effect and found that the influence of accent on discrimination is mediated by the perceived quality of the accent. Study 3 (N = 105) replicated the previous results even after controlling for the effect of stereotyping. These results are the first experimental illustration of the hypothesis that accent triggers intergroup discrimination only among prejudiced individuals because they evaluate native accents as being qualitatively better than accents of immigrants, thereby legitimizing ingroup bias.
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RESEARCH ARTICLE
The legitimizing role of accent on discrimination against immigrants
Luana Elayne Cunha de Souza*, Cicero Roberto Pereira,, Leoncio Camino,
Tiago Jessé Souza de Lima* & Ana Raquel Rosas Torres
* University of Fortaleza, Fortaleza, Brazil
Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Federal University of Paraíba, João Pessoa, Brazil
Correspondence
Luana de Souza, Postgraduate Program in
Psychology, University of Fortaleza, Brazil.
Postal Code: 60811-905.
E-mail: luana_elayne@hotmail.com
Received: 23 March 2015
Accepted: 14 April 2016
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2216
Keywords: accent, prejudice,
discrimination, legitimization
Abstract
This article analyses the inuence of accent on discrimination against immi-
grants by examining the hypothesis that accent leads to discrimination only
in more prejudiced individuals, merely because people speaking with a native
accent are perceived to be better qualied than those whose accent is non-
standard. In Study 1 (N= 71), we found that only prejudiced individuals
use accent to discriminate against immigrants. In Study 2 (N=124), we rep-
licated this effect and found that the inuence of accent on discrimination is
mediated by the perceived quality of the accent. Study 3 (N= 105) r eplicated
the previous results even after controlling for the effect of stereotyping. These
results are the rst experimental illustration of the hypothesis that accent
triggers intergroup discrimination only among prejudiced individuals be-
cause they evaluate native accents as being qualitatively better than accents
of immigrants, thereby legitimizing ingroup bias.
Non-standard accents are one of the most salient char-
acteristics of individuals from other countries who come
to live, work or study in a host country. An accent iden-
ties and potentially stigmatizes people as not being na-
tive born (Derwing & Munro, 2009; Moyer, 2004) or
not being native speakers (Kinzler, Dupoux, & Spelke,
2007). In fact, more than 40years of research in this
eld has established that a speakers accent constitutes
an important part of his/her social identity and conveys
a considerable amount of information that is useful in
evaluating a target (Edwards, 1999; Giles & Johnson,
1987; Gluszek & Dovidio, 2010; Lippi-Green, 1997).
This occurs because accent plays a central role in the
way individuals categorize speakers into social groups,
especially in relation to ethnic categorization (Rakić,
Steffens, & Mummendey, 2011). Indeed, previous re-
search suggests that non-standard accents are associated
with negative evaluations of the speaker (e.g., Fuertes,
Gottdiener, Martin, Gilbert, & Giles, 2012; Grondelaers,
van Hout, & Steegs, 2010; Hosoda, Stone-Romero, &
Walter, 2007; Ko, Judd, & Blair, 2006; Lev-Ari & Keysar,
2010; Lindemann, 2003, 2005), because the accent
elicits native individualsnegative attitudes towards the
social category to which the non-standard speaker be-
longs (Boyd, 2003; Bresnahan, Ohashi, Nebashi, Liu, &
Shearman, 2002; Fuertes et al., 2012; Lindemann,
2003). However, as far as we know, no research has
yet been published demonstrating the inuence of ac-
cent on actual discrimination against non-standard
speakers, nor has there been any elucidation of the social
and psychological process underlying the accent effect.
Specically, we do not know yet whether accent is
sufcient to lead to discrimination against non-standard
speakers or whether this discrimination is caused by a
combination of accent and a negative evaluation associ-
ated with the social categories that the accent reveals. In
this paper, we shed light on this question by proposing
that a targets accent leads to discrimination against a
person only when listeners already have a prejudiced
attitude against the social groups to which the target be-
longs. This possibility suggests that the mere salience of
accent does not necessarily imply ingroup bias. Indeed,
Park and Judd (2005) reviewed the relationship be-
tween categorization and ingroup bias and argued that
although categorization under some circumstances
may lead to bias, an increase in the strength of category
boundaries is not necessarily associated with an increase
in ingroup bias (refer also to Costa-Lopes, Pereira, &
Judd, 2014). Although the question remains unre-
solved, we believe that consideration of the role played
by prejudice on the inuence of accent on discrimina-
tion could help to resolve this issue. Specically, we pro-
pose the hypothesis that accent can be innocuous in
motivating discriminatory behaviour in non-prejudiced
individuals but can have a pervasive inuence on the
behaviour of highly prejudiced persons.
Nevertheless, because discrimination is discouraged
by the anti-prejudice norm (Dovidio & Gaertner,
2000), even more prejudiced individuals need to engage
in a legitimizing process in order to discriminate, and
they do so by using a seemingly unprejudiced justica-
tion (e.g., Gaertner & Dovidio, 2005). Indeed, research
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 609
EJSP
on the legitimation of social inequality (refer to
Costa-Lopes, Dovidio, Pereira, & Jost, 2013 for a review)
suggests that individuals need to legitimize their dis-
criminatory behaviour because this resolves the psycho-
logical conict between two contrasting motives: one
that promotes prejudiced attitudes and another that
promotes behaviours guided by egalitarian and fair
justice motives (e.g., Lima-Nunes, Pereira, & Correia,
2013). This possibility highlights the specic role played
by different aspects of accent in discrimination against
minority groups, which is an under-explored avenue
of research. What we propose is that more prejudiced
individuals discriminate against a target with a non-
standard accent because they use information about ac-
cents as a legitimizing mechanism for discriminating
against non-standard speakers.
The Legitimizing Role of Accent on
Discrimination
Prejudiced individuals can use information provided by
accents in many different ways to legitimize discriminat-
ing against non-standard speakers. For instance, be-
cause accent reveals target group membership,
stereotypes associated with the speakers group can jus-
tify ingroup bias (Allport, 1954; Tajfel, 1984; Yzerbyt,
Rocher, & Schadron, 1997). As stated by Operario and
Fiske (2001), stereotypes are consequences of the more
general process of categorization. The Stereotype Con-
tent Model (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002) argues
that stereotypes are captured by two universal dimen-
sions (warmth and competence) and that these dimen-
sions are predicted by two variables long identied as
important in intergroup relationsstatus and competi-
tion. Warmth is the perception that members of the
group are tolerant, warm, good natured and sincere,
while competence is the perception that members of
the group are competent, condent, independent, com-
petitive and intelligent. The greater attribution of
warmth and the lesser attribution of competencestereo-
types to characterize immigrants can be used by individ-
uals when making decisions in critical social situations
(Fiske et al., 2002; Lee & Fiske, 2006). In fact,
warmthcompetence stereotype content shows up in
situations involving language skills (e.g., Yzerbyt,
Provost, & Corneille, 2005): people with non-standard
accents (e.g., Scottish accents in UK and Chicano accents
in the USA) are perceived to be less competent but si-
multaneously friendly (Bradac, 1990; Ruscher, 2001).
This information can be pivotal when a manager needs
to make decisions about hiring applicants for a job.
In addition to the role played by accent in
stereotyping, accent provides further information about
people, legitimatizing discrimination against them. Indi-
viduals evaluate the extent to which the quality of an
accent conforms to socially more desirable standards of
speaking. Accordingly, the way a person speaks can be
used as a basis for making arbitrary evaluations and, un-
like many other forms of discrimination, is commonly
accepted and perceived as legitimate by society (Gluszek
& Dovidio, 2010). For instance, Ng (2007) argues that
accent justies discrimination because the perceived
quality of a groups language provides a legal justica-
tion for preferential treatment over other linguistic
groups, making it seemingly rational on the grounds
that a particular language competence is necessary for
becoming a bona de citizen, for performing well in
the job, or for beneting from university education
(p. 108). In addition, Lippi-Green (1997) states that in-
dividuals feel no compunctions about language-based
discrimination because they act as if accents were a lit-
mus test for exclusion, an excuse to turn away, to refuse
to recognize the other. In this sense, an individualsper-
ception of the quality of a targets accent might function
as a justiable reason for discriminating against this
target in a way that allows the individual to see
his/her behaviour as correct and legitimate.
Examples of this kind of discrimination can be found
in recent research into how speakers with non-standard
accents are disadvantaged in the workplace (Hosoda &
Stone-Romero, 2010; Huang, Frideger, & Pearce,
2013). In a survey of 26 out of 27 European Union
countries, 34% of a representative sample of respon-
dents believed that a job applicants way of speaking
(principally accent) would put him or her at a disadvan-
tage compared with an equally qualied, non-accented
candidate. Among managers in a position to hire, this
gure rose to 45% (European Commission, 2008).
These results can be explained by the fact that
prejudiced attitudes affect behaviour and decisions in
both conscious and unconscious ways (Devine, 1989;
Dovidio, 2001), by allowing employers to decide
whether having an accent constitutes a communicative
impairment.
According to our rationale, prejudiced individuals are
more sensitive to social categories made salient by the
accent of a speaker. Subsequently, they are likely to per-
ceive the quality of a non-standard accent to be lower
than that of a standard one and will then consider it le-
gitimate to hire a native speaker rather than an immi-
grant for a particular job. We argue, thus, that only
more prejudiced individuals will discriminate against a
speaker on the basis of his/her immigrant accent (vs. a
native one) because they are more motivated to per-
ceive the quality of an accent as a justiable reason for
not hiring a candidate who speaks with a non-standard
accent.
In summary, in this paper, we propose that individ-
uals speaking with non-standard accents will trigger dis-
crimination against themselves in highly prejudiced
people. This means that prejudice moderates the inu-
ence of speakersaccent on discrimination against them;
that is, the effect of accent is motivated by prejudice.
Moreover, we argue that the assessment of accents
works as a legitimizing mechanism for discrimination
in that the assessment of non-standard accents as being
worse than standard accents is perceived as a legitimate
reason for discrimination against immigrants. Accord-
ingly, this implies that assessment of accents should
function as a mediator of the inuence that the
L. E. C. Souza, et al.Legitimization of accent on discrimination
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.610
perception of immigrant versus native accents has in dis-
crimination against immigrants. So if the psychological
process occurs in thisway, it means that a mediated mod-
eration exists in the sense that accent discrimination oc-
curs only in prejudiced individuals, but even prejudiced
individuals need to legitimize discrimination, so the as-
sessment ofaccent functions as amediator of the process.
Overview of Studies
Through three studies, we examined how an immigrant
versus native accent inuences discrimination against
immigrants and whether the perceived quality of an ac-
cent plays a legitimizing role in this discrimination in
Portugal. These studies were conducted with a
decision-making scenario used in recruiting candidates
for a job. We chose Brazilian immigrants as our target
group for two reasons. First, it is the largest immigrant
community that is legally resident in Portugal. Second,
although Brazilian immigrants speak the same language
as native Portuguese nationals, Brazilian and European
Portuguese accents are easily distinguishable by listeners.
First, we conducted a pilot study to test whether a
candidates accent is perceived as a legitimate reason
for not hiring an immigrant who applied for a job. Then,
in Study 1, we tested the hypothesis that accent inu-
ences discrimination against immigrants and that this
inuence is moderated by prejudice. In Study 2, we rep-
licated and extended the previous study by testing the
hypothesis that the inuence of an accent in activating
discrimination in more prejudiced individuals is medi-
ated by the perceived quality of the accent. In Study 3,
we replicated the mediated-moderation effect and went
further, by demonstrating the inuence of the targets
accents in discrimination even after taking into account
stereotypes about the targets.
Pilot Study
The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that
using information about accents to decide in favour of
an ingroup target by discriminating against an immi-
grant is perceived as more legitimate than a decision
that does not take the targets accent into account. The
subjects were 27 female and 10 male Portuguese uni-
versity students (M
age
= 20.4, SD = 3.75), who were ran-
domly allocated to one of two conditions (decision
based on candidates accent vs. not based on candidates
accent). The participants read a text in which a director
of human resources required help to choose between
one of two candidates for a job. The only difference be-
tween the two candidates was that one of them spoke
with a Brazilian accent. Thus, the director decided to
choose the candidate speaking with a native accent.
We dened a Brazilian accentas the accent of a Brazil-
ian man who lives and looks for a job in Portugal, not a
Brazilian tourist. It is important to distinguish these two
target groups. While Brazilian tourists typically are not
familiar with the way of speaking Portuguese in Portu-
gal, Brazilian immigrants already have some contact
with the manner of speaking in Portugal and therefore
try to use local colloquialisms. This characterize them
as specic targets, different from tourists who do not
represent a threat to the status of the ingroup. The goal
here is to analyse what people think of this particular
group (i.e., Brazilian immigrants) and not Brazilians in
general. Specically, the text used was as follows:
A reputed company invited candidates to apply for a
series of jobs in business consulting and initiated a
process of recruitment and selection. The companys
director of human resources received ve applica-
tions. After a detailed analysis of the candidates
CVs, the director selected the two best candidates
for a telephone interview. During the interview, the
director failed to notice any signicant differences be-
tween the two candidates, except that one of them
spoke with a Brazilian accent.
In both experimental conditions, we presented a justi-
cation for the directors behaviour, but in one of them,
we used the candidates accent for justication, and in
the other, condition we did not mention the accent. In
the condition of deciding mentioning the candidatesac-
cent, the participants read that the director decided to
hire the candidate speaking with a European Portu-
guese accent because he thought that he/she best t
the role to be performed at the company, which is to in-
teract with customers who consider the accent of the
Portuguese spoken in Portugal more understandable
and correct. In the condition of deciding without men-
tioning the candidates accent, the participants read that
the director decided to hire the Portuguese candidate
because after listening to the candidates he dispelled
any questions that he might have about what would
be the best choice. After reading the text, the partici-
pants answered a 7-point measure-of-legitimacy ques-
tionnaire evaluating whether the decision to select the
Portuguese candidate was correct, appropriate, neces-
sary and legitimate. A mean score of these items was
created (α=.92).
We hypothesized that if accent is perceived as a legit-
imate reason for discrimination, the participants should
evaluate the decision to hire the Portuguese candidate
as more legitimate, correct, appropriate and necessary
in the mentioning accent conditionthan in the non-
mentioning accent condition.At-test for independent
samples showed that the participants judged as more
legitimate the hiring decision in the mentioning accent
condition (M=4.30, SD = 1.31) than in the non-men-
tioning accent condition (M=3.25, SD =1.18), t(35) =
2.56, p=.015. In addition, we compared the means
obtained in each condition with the midpoint of the
scale and found that in the control condition (non-men-
tioning accent condition), discrimination was clearly not
legitimate because the mean was signicantly below the
midpoint, t(16) = 2.62, p= .018. In contrast, in the ex-
perimental condition it was above the midpoint, but this
difference was not signicant, t(19)= 1.02, p=.320.
L. E. C. Souza, et al. Legitimization of accent on discrimination
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 611
Thus, the data gathered in this pilot study support our
hypothesis that accent is perceived as a legitimate rea-
son for favouring ingroup rather than outgroup
speakers.
Study 1
The pilot study showed that information about the tar-
gets accent is perceived as a fair and legitimate reason
to discriminate. This study aimed to go further, by test-
ing the hypothesis that discrimination against non-
native speakers is inuenced by the targets accent only
in individuals who hold prejudiced attitudes against
that social category activated by the speakers accent.
In this sense, we proposed that the targets accent
(native vs. non-native) will inuence discrimination
in more-prejudiced individuals but not in less-
prejudiced ones. The participants were invited to en-
gage in an online study conducted using a decision-
making scenario used in recruiting candidates for a
job. We presented ve CVs and then stated that only
two candidates had been selected for interview. In the
next section, we said that the participants would listen
to an excerpt from an interview with one of the candi-
dates. We manipulated the candidatesaccents, which
were either European or Brazilian Portuguese. The
participants then indicated the extent to which each
applicant should be hired (discrimination measure).
According to our rationale, only individuals highly
prejudiced against Brazilian immigrants would use the
targets accent in their decision about hiring; that is,
the target speaking with a Brazilian immigrant accent
will be hired less often than the target speaking with a
Portuguese accent, indicating discrimination against
the Brazilian immigrant based on his accent. Otherwise,
for low-prejudiced individuals, there will be no differ-
ence in hiring the Portuguese or the Brazilian candi-
date, indicating absence of discrimination.
Method
Participants and design. Seventy-one Portuguese
university students participated in this study
(M
age
=21.8, SD = 4.27; 34 male and 37 female). The
participants were randomly allocated to one of two con-
ditions (Portuguese accent vs. Brazilian accent) in a
between-subject single-factor design; 35 participants
evaluated the Brazilian candidate, and 36 participants
evaluated the Portuguese candidate.
Accent manipulation. All participants heard a
23-second excerpt from a job interview in which
the candidate introduced himself. Both conditions
had the same text and duration; the only difference
being the targets accent, which was recorded either
by a native Portuguese man or a native Brazilian
man. The excerpt spoken by the targets was as
follows:
I am applying for the position of business consultant
in the area of telecommunications and information
technology. I have a degree in management. I have
three yearsexperience in this area and recently com-
pleted a postgraduate degree in business administra-
tion. I am also available to work full time in the
ofces of Amoreiras, Saldanha, and Parque Expo.
Discrimination measure. We operationalized dis-
crimination by asking the participants to consider the
information that you have about the candidate. If
you were the manager of the company, what is the
likelihood of your hiring the candidate?The partici-
pants chose answers from a 4-point scale varying from
1(not at all likely)to4(very likely).
Prejudice measure. We measured prejudice against
Brazilian immigrants by using six items from the
Portuguese version of the blatant and subtle prejudice
scale (Lima-Nunes et al., 2013; Pettigrew & Meertens,
1995; Vala, Lopes, & Lima, 2008). We selected the best
six items having as a criterion those with the highest
factor loadings in the study by Lima-Nunes et al.
(2013) of prejudice and discrimination against
Brazilian immigrants (e.g., Brazilian immigrants come
from less able races and this explains why they are not
as well off as most Portuguese peopleand Compared
with the Portuguese people, Brazilian immigrants are
very different in the language that they speak). The
participants indicated the extent to which they agreed
with each statement on a 7-point scale varying from 1
(totally disagree)to7(totally agree). The scores were sub-
mitted to an exploratory factor analysis (using the princi-
pal axis factoring method of extraction), which revealed
only one factor that explained 34.52% of the variance
(eigenvalue = 2.07; factor loadings from .38 to .69;
α= .72). We compared the mean prejudice scores
between the two experimental conditions. A t-test for in-
dependent samples showed that there was no signicant
difference between participants who heard the Brazilian
accent (M=2.20; SD =0.80) and those who heard the
Portuguese accent (M=2.18; SD =0.99), t(67) = 0.09,
p= .928.
Manipulation check. At the end of the procedure,
we asked the participants to indicate the candidatesac-
cent. Only one participant answered this question incor-
rectly. As a result, he was excluded from the analysis
and the nal sample was therefore 71 students.
Results
We regressed discrimination on the accent (Portuguese
vs. Brazilian), prejudice and the interaction term. The
results showed a reliable main effect of accent, b=.37,
t(67) = 2.21, p=.031, η
2
p
= .26. Importantly, this effect
was qualied by a reliable interaction between preju-
dice and accent, b=.51, t(67) = 2.67, p=.010, η
2
p
=.31.
This means that prejudice moderates the inuence of
L. E. C. Souza, et al.Legitimization of accent on discrimination
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.612
accent on discrimination. As can be seen in Figure 1a,
low-prejudice participants (1.0 SD below the prejudice
mean) were equally likely to hire the Portuguese
(M= 2.97, SD = 0.16) and the Brazilian (M=3.06,
SD = 0.18) candidate, t(67) = 0.37, p= .714. However,
when prejudice was high (+1 SD above the prejudice
mean), the probability of hiring the Portuguese candi-
date (M=3.25,SD = 0.16) was greater than the probabil-
ity of hiring the Brazilian candidate (M=2.43,
SD = 0.18), t(67) = 3.46, p= .001. This means that listen-
ing to the targets accent had an inuence on discrimi-
nation only in participants who were more prejudiced
against Brazilian immigrants.
Discussion
This study provides the rst experimental evidence that
listening to a targets accent (native vs. immigrant) in-
uences discrimination against this target, with this in-
uence being moderated by prejudice. This result
supports our rst hypothesis, according to which only
prejudiced individuals should be more likely to use in-
formation about targetsaccents when making a deci-
sion about hiring candidates for a job, even when
these candidates have the same professional experience.
This means that accent leads to discrimination only in
individuals who already have negative attitudes about
atargets membership group. According to our ratio-
nale, this occurs because individuals engage in a legiti-
mizing process in which the perception of the quality
of an accent plays a central role. The next study ad-
dresses this hypothesis.
Study 2
This study intended to replicate Study 1 and go further
by analysing how information about accents leads to
discrimination in highly prejudiced individuals. As in
the previous study, the participants were invited to take
part in an online study conducted using a decision-
making scenario used in recruiting candidates for a
job. Once again, we manipulated the candidates
accents, which were either European or Brazilian
Portuguese. The participants then answered a
measure-of-accent assessment and indicated the proba-
bility of their hiring the candidate (discrimination mea-
sure). We predicted that hearing a target accent (native
vs. immigrant) inuences discrimination against this
target only in highly prejudiced individuals. Considering
that the perception of accent quality is a legitimizing
factor of discrimination, then this perception should
work as a mediator of the accent inuence in the dis-
crimination, process similar to that seen in previous
studies (e.g., Lima-Nunes et al., 2013, Study 1). Accord-
ing to our rationale, and based on the results of the pilot
study showing that discrimination based on accent is
perceived as legitimate, the inuence of accent on the
hiring decision should be mediated by an assessment
of the candidates accent, because accents trigger a pro-
cess of legitimation that is needed to justify the decision
to hire a member of the ingroup.
Method
Participants and design. One hundred and
twenty-nine Portuguese university students partici-
pated in this study. However, ve participants missed
Fig. 1: Probability of hiring the Portuguese and Brazilian candidates as a function of candidatesaccent and prejudice in Study 1 (a), Study 2 (b) and
Study 3 (c)
L. E. C. Souza, et al. Legitimization of accent on discrimination
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 613
the manipulation check, so the nal sample was 124
students (M
age
=23.7, SD = 4.83; 60 male and 64 fe-
male). The participants were randomly allocated to
one of two conditions (Portuguese accent vs. Brazilian
accent) of a between-subject single-factor design.
Accent manipulation. The content of the manip-
ulation was the same as that used in Study 1. Thus, the
participants were exposed to and evaluated one of
the two candidates, this presentation being fully
randomized.
Assessment of accent measure. We developed a
12-item measure to assess the candidates accent (e.g.,
understandable,sounds good,correct,uglyand
nice). The participants indicated the extent to which
each of the adjectives described the speech that they
had just heard using a 7-point scale (1=not at all;7=a
lot). The scores were submitted to exploratory factor
analysis (using the principal axis factoring method of
extraction), which revealed only one factor that ex-
plained 32.39% of the variance (eigenvalue = 3.89; fac-
tor loadings from .32 to .93). Three items were excluded
because they had low factor loadings (under .30). Reli-
ability analysis indicated that this scale had good inter-
nal consistency (α=.84).
Discrimination measure. The measure was the
same used in the previous study, in which participants
indicated the probability of their hiring each candidate
on a 4-point scale varying from 1 (not at all likely)to4
(very likely).
Manipulation checks. We used the same manip-
ulation check as in the previous study. Five participants
did not answer this question correctly and were ex-
cluded from the analysis.
Prejudice measure. The measure consisted of the
same six items from the Portuguese version of the bla-
tant and subtle prejudice against Brazilian immigrants
scale used in a previous study (α= .72). We compared
the mean scores of prejudice between the two condi-
tions of the experiment. A t-test for independent sam-
ples showed that there was no signicant difference
between participants who heard the Brazilian accent
(M=2.26; SD = 0.85) and those who heard the Portu-
guese accent (M=2.22; SD =1.05),t(72) = 0.16, p= .874.
Results
We used a multiple-regression approach (Baron &
Kenny, 1986) to test whether the inuence of accent
on discrimination is moderated by prejudice and medi-
ated by the assessment of the accent in question. For this
purpose, we estimated three regression models. The
parameters estimated for the three steps are shown in
Table 1.
In the rst model, we regressed discrimination on ac-
cent, prejudice, and the interaction term. The results
showed a reliable main effect of accent. Importantly,
the interaction between prejudice and accent predicted
discrimination. This means that our rst hypothesis that
prejudice moderates the relationship between accent
and discrimination was corroborated. As can be seen in
Figure 1b, low-prejudice participants (1.0 SD below
the prejudice mean) were equally likely to hire the Por-
tuguese (M=2.86, SD = 0.11) and the Brazilian
(M=2.80, SD = 0.11) candid ate, t(120) = 0.37, p=.714.
However, in participants with high prejudice (+1 SD
above the prejudice mean), the Portuguese candidate
(M=2.98, SD =0.11)wasmorelikelytobehiredthan
the Brazilian one (M=2.35, SD =0.10), t(120) = 4.20,
p<.001. This means that the accent had an inuence
on discrimination only in participants who were more
prejudiced against Brazilian immigrants.
In the second model, we regressed the assessment of
accent on prejudice, accent and the interaction term.
The results indicated that accent has a reliable effect
on the assessment of accent, demonstrating that the
Portuguese accent (M=4.80, SD = 0.11) is more posi-
tively evaluated than the Brazilian accent (M= 4.39,
SD =0.11), t(120) = 2.63, p= .010. Importantly, this ef-
fect is moderated by prejudice in such a way that low-
prejudice participants (1.0 SD below the prejudice
mean) showed no difference in the way they assessed
the Portuguese accent (M=4.67,SD = 0.16) and the Bra-
zilian accent (M=4.60, SD =0.16), t(120) = 0.32,
p= .745. However, high-prejudice participants (+1 SD
above the prejudice mean) assessed the Portuguese
accent more positively (M=4.94, SD = 0.16) than the
Brazilian accent (M=4.19, SD =0.15), t(120) = 3.37,
p= .001. This means that only individuals with more
negative attitudes against Brazilian immigrants perceive
Table 1. Parameters estimated according to regression models used in
analysis of the role of assessment of accent in the inuence of accent on
discrimination
Criterio n variables
Step 1: D Step 2: AA Step 3: D
Predictors bb b
Intercept 2.75** 4.60** 2.75**
Accent (A) 0.35** 0.41** 0.19*
Prejudice (P) 0.09 0.03 0.07
A × P 0.31** 0.36* 0.17
Assessment of
accent (AA) 0.38**
AA × P 0.00
Model
information R=.39 R=.30 R=.65
R
2
Adjusted
=.13 R
2
Adjusted
=.07 R
2
Adjusted
=.40
F(3,120) = 7.22 F(3,120) = 4.01 F(5,118) = 17.10
p<.001 p<.01 p<.001
Note:b= unstandardized coefcients; D, discrimination.
*p<.05.
**p<.01.
L. E. C. Souza, et al.Legitimization of accent on discrimination
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.614
the quality of a Portuguese accent as better than a
Brazilian one.
In the third model, we added the assessment of accent
and its interaction with prejudice to predict discrimina-
tion. The results indicated that the effect of the assess-
ment of accent on discrimination was signicant. The
interaction effect between accent and prejudice de-
clined substantially and was no longer signicant. This
result indicates that the relationship between accent
and discrimination, besides being moderated by preju-
dice, is mediated by the assessment of the targetsac-
cent. The mediation effect was reliable with 5000 bias
corrected resamples from bootstrapping (indirect
effect= 0.16; 95%CI: 0.04 to 0.31). To estimate the con-
dence intervals through bootstrapping, we used struc-
tural equation modelling with AMOS for Windows. In
the Hayes PROCESS, this procedure is equivalent to
model 59 (Hayes, 2013).
In order to interpret this mediated-moderation, we
analysed the effect of accent on discrimination against
the Brazilian candidate by taking into account different
levels of prejudice. Specically, we broke down the me-
diating effect of assessment of accent into participants
with a low prejudice (i.e., those with 1.0 SD below
the prejudice mean) and those with a high prejudice
(i.e., those with +1.0 SD above the prejudice mean). As
Figure 2a shows, for participants with higher levels of
prejudice, the effect of accent on discrimination was
mediated by the assessment of the accent (indirect ef-
fect = 0.29; 95%CI: 0.08 to 0.54 with 5000 bias
corrected resamples through bootstrapping). In other
words, for highly prejudiced individuals, the accent of
a candidate speaking European Portuguese is better
evaluated than that of a candidate speaking Brazilian
Portuguese, which in turn leads to the Portuguese can-
didate being hired instead of the Brazilian candidate.
For participants with lower levels of prejudice, accent
predicted neither discrimination nor the assessment of
accent (indirect effect = 0.10; 95%CI: 0.29 to 0.05).
Discussion
This study reinforces evidence that the target accent
triggers discrimination against this target, which sup-
ports our rst hypothesis. In fact, the results replicate
the previous study, showing that a candidate with a
Portuguese accent is signicantly more likely to be hired
than one having a Brazilian accent, by more prejudiced
participants but not by less prejudiced ones.
Importantly, conrming our second hypothesis, the
results showed that the inuence of accent on discrimi-
nation is mediated by individual perception of the qual-
ity of the accent concerned. This means that the
assessment of an accents quality can be the psycholog-
ical mechanism that underlies the inuence of accent
on discrimination. In other words, in assessing a
speakers accent, prejudiced individuals tend to evaluate
the ingroup accent more positively in a manner that le-
gitimates their decision, which was made in a context of
intergroup discrimination.
Despite providing evidence for our hypotheses, the
ndings would be stronger if we had given the partici-
pants the opportunity to hear both candidates and
then decide which one to hire. Moreover, stronger
evidence for the role played by accent quality would
have been obtained if we had controlled for the effect
of stereotyping, because the accent effect can be
confounded with the way individuals use warmth and
competence stereotypes when evaluating standard and
non-standard accent speakers (e.g., Yzerbyt et al.,
2005). To overcome these limitations, we carried out a
third study with a within-subject design.
Study 3
This study intended to replicate the previous ones by
using a within-subject design where accent leads to dis-
crimination, with this inuence being moderated by
prejudice and mediated by assessment of the candidates
Fig. 2: The effect of accent on discrimination moderated by prejudice (coefcients in bold refer to participants with higher levels of prejudice) and
mediated by assessment of accent in Study 2 (a) and Study 3 (b)
L. E. C. Souza, et al. Legitimization of accent on discrimination
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 615
accent. Moreover, we measured warmth and compe-
tence stereotypes to test the mediating role of accent
quality even after controlling for the effect of
stereotyping. As in the previous study, the participants
were invited to take part in an online study conducted
using a decision-making scenario used in recruiting can-
didates for a job. They rst heard one of two recorded
excerpts of a job interview. Next, they answered ques-
tions designed to assess the accent, attributed scores to
the candidates warmth and competence, and indicated
the probability of their hiring the candidate (discrimina-
tion measure). Then, the participants heard the other
recording and answered the questions again for the
other candidate. At the end, the participants answered
the prejudice questionnaire. We hypothesized that ac-
cent inuences discrimination in highly prejudiced par-
ticipants. Importantly, if the inuence of accent is
because of participantsperception of the features of
the targets accent, this inuence should be mediated
by the perception of the accents quality. Instead, if the
inuence of accent is motivated by stereotyping, this in-
uence should be mediated by the greater attribution of
warmth stereotypes to the Brazilian than to the Portu-
guese target and lesser attribution of competence ste-
reotypes to the Brazilian than to the Portuguese target,
because Brazilians are perceived having low status and
forming an uncompetitive outgroup (Lima-Nunes,
2013).
Method
Participants and design. One hundred and ve
Portuguese university students participated in this study
(M
age
=24.1, SD = 4.37; 58 male and 47 female). This
experiment consisted of a single factor (Portuguese
accent vs. Brazilian accent) within-subject design.
Accent manipulation. The content of the manip-
ulation was the same as that used in Studies 1 and 2.
However, because we used a within-subject design,
the participants were exposed to and evaluated one
candidate and then were exposed to and evaluated
the other candidate, this presentation being fully
randomized.
Assessment of accent measure. The measure was
the assessment of the candidatesaccents that was used
in a previous study (α= .85 for Portuguese accent and
α= .89 for Brazilian accent).
Stereotype measure. We used the competence
and warmth stereotypes (Fiske et al., 2002) to measure
Brazilian and Portuguese stereotypes. We asked the par-
ticipants to indicate the extent to which the candidates
presented each of seven traits, using a 7-point scale
(1 = not at all;7=alot). We submitted the scores to two
exploratory factor analyses (using the principal axis
factoring method of extraction) with varimax rotation.
For the Portuguese stereotypes, the results revealed
two factors that explained 49.98% of the variance
(eigenvalues = 2.09 and 1.90) for competence stereo-
type factor loadings from .58 (competitive) to .68 (inde-
pendent), α=.73 and warmth stereotypes from .55
(trustworthy) to .80 (warm), α= .77. For the Brazilian
stereotypes, the results also revealed two factors that ex-
plained 50.70% of the variance (eigenvalues=2.52 and
1.53) for competence stereotype factor loadings from
.34 (competent) to .72 (competitive), α= .76 and
warmth stereotypes from .45 (warm) to .82 (trustwor-
thy), α= .78.
Discrimination measure. We used the same mea-
sure employed in the previous studies; that is, the partic-
ipants indicated the probability of their hiring each
candidate on a 4-point scale varying from 1 (notatall
likely)to4(very likely).
Prejudice measure. The measure consisted of the
same six items from the Portuguese version of the bla-
tant and subtle prejudice scale used in the previous
studies (α= .79).
Results
We expected that the inuence of accent on the proba-
bility of the candidates being hired would be moderated
by prejudice. That is, the Portuguese candidate would be
more likely to be hired than the Brazilian candidate, but
only by more prejudiced participants. Moreover, we
predicted that this moderation would be mediated by
the assessment of the candidates accent, even when
taking into account the role played by the warmth and
competence stereotypes attributed to the targets. To test
these hypotheses, we estimated a mediated-moderation
model in a within-subject design. In line with the sug-
gestions of Judd, Kenny and McClelland (2001), we
used difference scores to represent the within subject-
effect of the target on discrimination (i.e., the dependent
variable), the assessment of the candidates accent and
the warmth and competence stereotypes (i.e., the medi-
ators) in multiple regression analyses. In this sense, we
estimated four regression models. The parameters esti-
mated for the three steps are shown in Table 2.
In the rst model, we regressed the difference scores
for discrimination (D) on prejudice. In this model, the
intercept represents the main effect of the targets
accents on discrimination, while the prejudice effect
represents the two-way interaction between accent
and prejudice. As predicted, the results showed that
the accent per se was not sufcient for discrimination
to take place. However, the effect of prejudice was reli-
able and indicated that prejudice moderates the inu-
ence of accent on discrimination. As can be seen in
Figure 1c, low-prejudice participants (1SD from prej-
udice mean) were just as likely to hire the Portuguese
candidate (M=2.72, SD = 0.09) as the Brazilian one
L. E. C. Souza, et al.Legitimization of accent on discrimination
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.616
(M= 2.83, SD =0.09),t(102) = 0.98, p= .331. However,
when prejudice was high (+1 SD from prejudice mean),
the probability of hiring the Portuguese candidate
(M= 2.72, SD = 0.09) was greater than the probability
of hiring the Brazilian candidate (M=2.44, SD =0.09),
t(102) = 2.50 p= .014. As in Studies 1 and 2, this means
that the targetsaccents inuenced discrimination only
in participants who were more prejudiced against
Brazilian immigrants.
In the second model, we regressed the difference
scores of the mediators (AA, CS and WS) on prejudice.
In this model, the intercept represents the mean differ-
ence between the experimental conditions used in
assessing accent and competence and warmth stereo-
types. The results indicated that accent has a reliable ef-
fect only in assessing accent and warmth stereotypes.
That is, the Portuguese candidate was judged to have a
better accent (M=4.59, SD = 0.83) than the Brazilian
candidate (M=4.36,SD = 0.97), but the Brazilian immi-
grant was evaluated as being warmer (M=4.37,
SD = 0.77) than the Portuguese candidate (M=4.12,
SD = 0.77).
In the last model, we regressed discrimination on
prejudice, on the difference scores of the mediators,
and on the interaction terms. The results indicated that
only the assessment of accent predicted discrimination
as this was the only mediating variable in the process ac-
cording to 5000 bias corrected resamples obtained by
bootstrapping (indirect effect=0.04; 95%CI: 0.01 to
0.10), even when controlling for warmth and compe-
tence. To estimate the condence intervals through
bootstrapping, we used structural equation modelling
with AMOS for Windows. There is no equivalent model
for this mediated moderation in the within-subject de-
sign in the Hayes PROCESS (Hayes, 2013). Moreover,
the effect of prejudice decreased substantially and was
no longer signicant, which indicates that assessment
of accent mediates the role played by prejudice in the re-
lation between accent and discrimination.
In order to interpret this mediated moderation, as in
the previous study, we analysed the effect of accent on
discrimination against immigrants by taking into ac-
count different levels of prejudice. Specically, we
broke down the mediating effect of assessmentof accent
into low-prejudice participants (i.e., those with 1.0 SD
below the prejudice mean) and high-prejudice partici-
pants (i.e., those with +1.0 SD above the prejudice
mean). As Figure 2b shows, for participants with higher
levels of prejudice, the effect of accent on discrimination
was mediated by the assessment of accent (indirect ef-
fect = 0.08; 95%CI: 0.01 to 0.25). In other words, being
highly prejudiced signicantly predicted a better evalu-
ation of the Portuguese accent than the Brazilian accent,
which in turn led to the Portuguese candidate to be
hired more thanthe Brazilian one. For participants with
lower levels of prejudice, the candidates accent pre-
dicted neither discrimination nor the assessment of ac-
cent (indirect effect = 0.00; 95%CI: 0.07 to 0.06).
Discussion
The main effect of accent we found in the two previous
studies did not arise in this one. We think this is because
of the within-subject experimental design used here. In-
deed, participants had the opportunity to compare the
two candidates for the job, and thus, it is very likely that
the comparison aroused anti-prejudiced concerns that
motivated the reduction in accent strength. However,
the pattern is a strong test for our prediction according
to which the inuence of accent on discrimination is
moderated by prejudice and mediated by assessment
of accent. Using a different design, results demonstrated
that targetsaccents inuenced discrimination only
when prejudice was high, and this inuence was
Tab le 2 . Parameters estimated for mediated moderation
Criterio n variables
Step 1: D Step 2: Step 3: D
AA CS WS
Predictors bb b bb
Accent (I) 0.08 0.23* 0.10 0.25* 0.02
Prejudice (P) 0.18* 0.18
+
0.01 0.13 0.09
AA 0.39**
CS 0.14
WS 0.04
P*AA 0.06
P*CS 0.02
P*WS 0.04
Model Information R=.26 R=.27 R=.12 R=.28 R=.65
R
2
Adjusted
=.05 R
2
Adjusted
=.06 R
2
Adjusted
=.005 R
2
Adjusted
=.06 R
2
Adjusted
=.38
F(2,102)= 3.60 F(2,103)= 4.10 F(2,101) = 0.74 F(2,101) = 4.39 F(8,95) = 8.80
p=.031 p=.019 p=.478 p=.015 p<.001
Note:b= unstandardized coefcients; D, discrimination; I, intercept; AA, assessment of accent; CS, competence stereotype; WS, warmth stereotype.
*p<.05.
**p<.01.
+
p=.065.
L. E. C. Souza, et al. Legitimization of accent on discrimination
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 617
mediated by the assessment of the targets accent. The
effect occurred independently of stereotyping about
the target. Although accent predicted warmth stereo-
types, in the sense that the participants attributed more
warmth stereotypes to the Brazilian candidate than to
the Portuguese one, which corroborates other research
(Edwards, 1982; Fuertes et al., 2012), these stereotypes
did not mediate the inuence of accent on discrimina-
tion against immigrants.
General Discussion
We analysed the inuence of accent on discrimination
against immigrants. Study 1 explored the role of preju-
dice in this inuence and revealed that listening to an
immigrants accent led to discrimination against this im-
migrant only in the case of the more prejudiced partici-
pants. The question that arises here is whether the mere
fact of an accent being perceived as native versus non-
native is sufcient to lead to discrimination against the
non-native speaker. Indeed, in people with low levels
of prejudice, accent does not lead to discrimination
against the immigrant. Importantly, this pattern of re-
sults was replicated in Studies 2 and 3.
The mediating role played by the assessment of accent,
as demonstrated in Study 2 and replicated in Study 3,
follows and extends the results of previous studies, dem-
onstrating the importance of legitimizing factors to un-
derstand discrimination (Pereira, Vala, & Costa-Lopes,
2010; Pereira, Vala, & Leyens, 2009). One of the innova-
tive aspects of this research programme is demonstrating
that the evaluation that people make about the accent of
a target group assumes this role in legitimizing
prejudiced individuals. In accordance with our predic-
tions, for more prejudiced individuals, information
about accent is an important criterion when they make
hiring decisions for job candidates; insofar, this decision
is mediated by assessment of the quality of the targets
accent. Our rationale is that the assessment of a speakers
accent is perceived as a non-prejudiced way of justifying
discriminatory behaviour, as we found in the pilot study.
While it is morally and ethically unacceptable to use in-
formation about race or ethnicity to discriminate
(Lippi-Green, 1997), evaluating the way that a person
speaks is commonly accepted and perceived as legitimate
in society (Gluszek & Dovidio, 2010; Ng, 2007).
Theoretical Implications
In current day globalized societies where immigrants
are competing with nationals for jobs, the study of hir-
ing discrimination has high social relevance. Indeed,
accent is one of the key markers differentiating
immigrants from the national majority. Studying the ac-
cent effect has practical implications for social psycholo-
gists not only because it provides insights about the
dynamics of intergroup relations involving linguistic
skills but also because it is useful for planning interven-
tion in several social situations, especially in the labour-
market context. The current research programme goes
beyond the implications of the applied effect of
speakersaccent, because it also contributes to theoriz-
ing and research on intergroup discrimination in at least
three ways: (i) it sheds light on literature about the ac-
cent effect because it shows experimental evidence for
the inuence of accent on actual discrimination against
immigrants; (ii) it suggests that accent per se is not
enough to trigger discrimination because the accent ef-
fect would depend on negative attitudes that individuals
have about the target groups; and (iii) it highlights the
legitimizing role played by accent in social inequality.
In fact, this paper contributes to a better understand-
ing of the role played by categorization in intergroup
discrimination (Park & Judd, 2005) because it shows ex-
perimentally that the accessibility of social categories per
se is not sufcient to lead to discrimination and that this
pervasive effect occurs only in individuals who have
negative attitudes towards the target group. We show
that accents are really linked to categorization and that
this categorization then triggers negative evaluations
about targets (Fuertes et al., 2012; Rakićet al., 2011)
and leads to discrimination against them, specically
immigrants with different accents. Our research goes
further and shows in Study 3 that the psychological
mechanism that explains the inuence of accent on dis-
crimination is, in fact, the assessment of the quality of
the targets accent even after controlling for the effect
of stereotyping.
We also believe that this paper contributes to the study
of processes by which social inequalities are legitimated
(Costa-Lopes et al., 2013), as it reveals a new, seemingly
unprejudiced argument that is capable of legitimizing
discrimination (Pereira et al., 2010). Indeed, perceiving
the quality of an accent to be legitimate information in
deciding in favour of a native candidate is in line with so-
cial psychology research and theory, which reveals that
prejudice and discrimination persist because individuals
have developed indirect ways and legitimated forms of
discrimination (e.g., Crandall & Eshleman, 2003;
Dovidio & Gaertner, 2004; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999).
Moreover, as pointed out by Pereira et al. (2009), the re-
lationship between prejudice and discrimination needs
to be legitimized because individualsself-concepts hold
internalized egalitarian justice principles that require
them to have good reasons to discriminate. This paper
shows that the assessment of the way a person speaks
can work as a strong argument to justify discrimination.
Limitations and Further Directions
Although the results reported here support our hypoth-
eses, these studies have some important limitations.
Although contributing to the eld of accent research
by experimentally demonstrating the prejudiced-based
accent effect on actual discrimination, we did not ma-
nipulate prejudice. The observational nature of the role
played by prejudice on accent effect weakens the evi-
dence in support the idea that discrimination against
non-standard speakers is motivated by prejudice. We
think that further research can improve the evidence
L. E. C. Souza, et al.Legitimization of accent on discrimination
European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.618
for this hypothesis by manipulating not only the accent
but also prejudice. In addition, our predictions clearly
posit that accent inuences only individuals who
already have prejudiced attitudes against targetssocial
category, but does not provide insight about the accent
effect on individualsprejudiced attitudes. Future
research can better investigate this issue by testing the
role played by accent on factors known to directly
inuence prejudice, such as intergroup contact and the
quality of this contact.
Despite these limitations, the research presented here
shows strong evidence that accent inuences discrimi-
nation only in more prejudiced people. Furthermore,
this effect is mediated by assessment of the targetsac-
cent in the sense that the participants tend to evaluate
the ingroup accent more positively as a way of justifying
their discriminatory behaviour as legitimate.
Acknowledgements
This work was partially supported by a grant from CNPq,
Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia, Brazil, awarded to
Luana de Souza (SWE-245390/2012-0), by a grant from
the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon
(PEst-OE/SADG/LA0013/2013), and by a grant from the
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, awarded to
Cicero Roberto Pereira (PTDC/PSI-PSO/114159/2009).
We thank the Lisbon SPARC Research Group of the In-
stitute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon for
their helpful comments on previous versions of these
studies. We would also like to thank Eva G. T. Green
and two reviewers for their insightful comments that
greatly contributed to improving this paper.
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European Journal of Social Psychology 46 (2016) 609620 Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.620
... those spoken by stigmatized and non-normative groups (Dragojevic et al., 2021). So far, research has mostly focused on attitudes toward speakers of low prestige language varieties involving non-standard regional or foreign accents (Giles et al., 1981;Hansen et al., 2018;Rakićet al., 2011a;Roessel et al., 2019;Souza et al., 2016) with less attention given to gay-sounding speakers. ...
... It has been suggested that the mere salience of a social category may not be enough to explain discrimination (see Park and Judd, 2005). Indeed, studies on non-standard accents have shown that beliefs in group hierarchy (i.e., social dominance orientation; Hansen and Dovidio, 2016) and prejudice (Souza et al., 2016) predicted and explained the hiring decisions of non-standard accented speakers. Therefore, it is possible that discrimination against gay-sounding speakers would occur among those who endorse prejudice towards gay men. ...
... Importantly, our findings indicate that prejudice moderates heterosexuals' biases toward gay-sounding speakers. These results complement previous work on discrimination of non-standard accented speakers showing that prejudice (Souza et al., 2016) and social dominance orientation (Hansen & Dovidio,Figure 1. Sexual prejudice moderation of the sexual orientation on employability effect. 2016) can explain who is more likely to discriminate against speakers. ...
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Vocal cues are used to categorize speakers’ sexual orientation. Hearing a gay-sounding speaker can elicit discrimination. This study investigated whether gay-sounding speakers were discriminated against when applying for a job in Brazil and whether prejudice moderated such an effect. Heterosexual participants listened to a gay- or heterosexual-sounding applicant, rating him in terms of personality traits and employability. The results showed that gay-sounding candidates were discriminated against compared to heterosexual-sounding candidates, but this was true only among highly prejudiced participants.
... Some people may feel that a person sounds friendly, intelligent, competent, sincere, confident, arrogant, and aggressive because of their accent (He, 2015;Heise, 1970;McKenzie, 2006). This is a consequence of the fact that some accents are considered 'better' or 'worse' than others, which can lead to the discrimination of some individuals because of the way they speak (Anchimbe;Cunha de Souza, Pereira, Camino, Souza de Lima & Rosas-Torres, 2016;Maum, 2002). According to Buss (1961), prejudice can be defined as aggression or hostility toward others because of their group. ...
... To start with, Cunha da Souza et al. (2016) reported some examples of discrimination and hostility towards foreign accents. They found cases of discrimination concerning how speakers with non-standard accents were disadvantaged in the workplace (Hosoda, Stone-Romero, & Walter, 2007;Huang, Frideger, & Pearce, 2013). ...
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This research aims to analyze the change in our students' opinions towards native and non-native English and their perception of non-native speakers' pronunciation. To this end, a telecollaborative project was carried out with students (KPI), Ukraine. Our students were divided into an experimental and a control group. Both groups completed two questionnaires before and after the telecollaborative project, and their progress was measured. The first questionnaire asked students about their perception of other non-native English accents (adapted from He & Li, 2009), while in the second, they assessed the accents of other international students who were non-native speakers of English (based on Bayard, Weatherall, Gallois & Pittam, 2001; and Zahn & Hopper, 1985). The results showed that students who had been in contact with other non-native speakers positively changed their perception of that variety of English. In conclusion, telecollaboration seems to be a valuable tool to develop cultural competence and avoid prejudices against non-native speakers.
... Speakers of some accents tend to be perceived as less competent and of lower socio-intellectual status than others (Rakić et al. 2011). Specifically, listeners tend to associate more negative traits with speakers who use accents that are not standard in the context in which they are speaking (De Souza et al. 2016). For instance, American listeners are more likely to categorize non-Anglo accents as "foreign" instead of "American" than they are with Standard American English (SAE) accents. ...
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This study explores how people’s perceptions of speakers’ accents may be related to their perceptions of speakers’ professional characteristics. Sociolinguistic research continues to highlight that the ways listeners perceive accents and the ways they perceive the people who use those accents are intertwined. In addition, accent discrimination is often an underlooked form of discrimination in various aspects of society, including in workplace situations – from interview success to upward mobility. The U.S. judicial system, in theory, condemns discrimination based on national origin, race, socioeconomic status, etc. but, in reality, provides leeway for employers to discriminate based on language and uphold beliefs in standard language ideology. In the U.S., English speakers tend to view non-native English speakers as less credible or believable than native English speakers, but few other studies have explored this relationship between accent perception and the perception of personal characteristics. Our study contributes to sociolinguistic research on accent perception by exploring how accentedness interacts with the perception of specific character traits prioritized in professional situations: professionalism, confidence, believability, knowledgeability, and level of experience.
... Central to the idea of "unequal English accents" in accentism is the argument that English accents, or at least retaining the ability to practice appropriate or acceptable English accents, is intersectionally determined by the speakers' ethnic, racial, national and socio-economic subject positions (Salonga 2015). The absence of dominant standard English accents such as British, Australian, American, and Canadian accents may lead to an undesirable judgement towards the speaker and further evoke negative stereotypes from the dominant society (De Souza et al. 2016). In particular, accentism surrounding "ethnic" (Dovchin 2020b) or "foreign" accents, primarily embodied by ethnic minority backgrounds seem to particularly dominate the literature in accentism. ...
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Accentism refers to the ways that “unequal English accents” become re-allocated in particular English-speaking dominant contexts, creating different presumptions, ideologies and attitudes towards the English accent and pronunciation of English speakers. Using data derived from two larger ethnographic studies, this article aims to explore the ways that English as an Additional Language (EAL) migrants experience covert accentism – the social exclusion caused covertly when the dominant members of society misunderstand the accents of EAL users. Our study shows that EAL users express their worry of being stereotyped for their English accents, which interferes with their social and daily life. In particular, the participants noted forms of social exclusion such as a lack of interest in them or their experiences, and deficit perspectives surrounding their overall English practices including their accents. We conclude that such instances of covert accentism can lead to more serious implications, such as having difficulty fostering relationships with members of the dominant society, accent bullying, and psychological damage.
... For instance, while having an American accent while speaking a native language within one's family was related to experiences of discrimination, isolation, and sense of not-belonging, having a non-American accent, on the other hand, was a source of accent-based discrimination among peers. Although limited, the literature notes the prevalence of accent-based discrimination among international students and the negative burden of mental health [49,50], as well as interracial othering among Asian Americans [51]. Our results demonstrate that the type of accent-based discrimination differs among racial/ethnic college students depending on the audience, with contradictory stressors from family versus peers. ...
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Background: Experiences of discrimination are prevalent among minority populations, although often empirical evidence does not provide depth into the source and types of discrimination, such as racial/ethnic, gender-based, age, etc. The goal of this study was to assess the unique patterns, types, and sources of discrimination experiences that college students face and explore the role these experiences play in their mental health. Methods: An explanatory sequential mixed-methods study was utilized. Quantitative assessment of college students from a Hispanic and minority-serving institution was conducted to evaluate experiences of discrimination and its association to physical health and mental health (including psychological distress), as well as food insecurity, a marker for poverty. Next, qualitative data were thematically analyzed to further provide an in depth understanding on the sources of such experiences, types of discriminations, as well as the impact on mental health. Results: Results of the quantitative assessment highlight that discrimination was prevalent among the population with a higher everyday discrimination score significantly associated with serious psychological distress, low mental health status, low physical health status, and being food insecure. Further, most of the participants reported that they felt discriminated due to their appearance, with race/ethnicity and skin color as next most commonly cited reasons. Qualitative assessment further demonstrates distinct types of discrimination experiences from a variety of sources. Within a family, colorism and having an American accent while speaking a native language was a predominant source, while among peers, having a non-American accent was a primary source of discrimination experiences. Such experiences based on elitism, gender, and age (being younger) from the workplace were prevalent among the target population. Finally, feelings of isolation, not belonging, as well as negative impact on self-efficacy and self-worth were noted. Conclusion: Experiences of discrimination are prevalent among college students, including from within family and peers. To improve mental health outcomes of such a population, campus-based measures are needed to promote resiliency and social support, as well as community-based initiatives to promote workplace training to create inclusive environments for younger generations entering the workforce.
... However, two moderators that have been examined are prejudice and familiarity with a given accent. Not surprisingly, research shows that the more individuals are prejudiced, the more unfavorably they tend to view speakers with accents and may also be more apt to see accents as a legitimate reason for discrimination (de Souza et al., 2016). Research in the communications literature demonstrates that a greater exposure to, and therefore, familiarity with a given non-native accent is generally related to more favorable attitudes toward speakers with that nonnative accent (e.g., Baese-Berk et al., 2013). ...
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Speaking with a non‐native English accent at work is a prevalent global phenomenon. Yet, our understanding of the impact of having a non‐native accent at work is limited, in part because research on accents has been multidisciplinary, fragmented, and difficult for scholars to access and synthesize. To advance research on accents in the workplace, we provide an interdisciplinary and integrative review of research on non‐native accents drawing from the communications, social psychology, and organizational sciences literatures. First, we briefly review the dominant approaches taken in each literature. Second, we organize and integrate extant research findings using a 2 X 2 framework that incorporates the two main theoretical perspectives used to explain the effects of accents – stereotypes and processing fluency – and the two primary categories of workplace outcomes examined – interpersonal (i.e., others’ evaluations of speakers with non‐native accents, such as hiring recommendations) and intrapersonal (i.e., non‐native accented speakers’ own evaluations and experiences, such as sense of belonging). To facilitate future research, we end by articulating a research agenda including theoretical and methodological expansions related to the study of accents, identifying critical moderators, adopting an intersectional approach, and studying group‐level and potential positive effects of speaking with non‐native accents.
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Standard-accented job candidates are perceived as more hireable than non-standard-accented candidates. Two broad perspectives have emerged as to what drives this effect: (a) that it is a pragmatic response to the perception that non-standard accents can impede job-relevant communication (processing fluency explanation) and/or (b) that non-standard accents signal “otherness” and candidates are devalued as a result (prejudice explanation). This meta-analytic integration of 139 effect sizes ( N = 4,576) examined these two perspectives. Standard-accented candidates were considered more hireable than non-standard-accented candidates ( d = 0.47)—a bias that was stronger for high communication jobs. Other findings, however, are difficult to explain from a processing fluency explanation: candidates’ relative comprehensibility was not a significant moderator of hiring bias. Moreover, the degree of accent bias was associated with perceptions of the candidates’ social status, and accent bias was particularly pronounced among female candidates and for candidates who spoke in foreign (as compared with regional) accents.
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Listeners can access information about a speaker such as age, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and their linguistic background upon hearing their speech. However, it is still not clear if listeners use these factors to assess speakers’ speech. Here, an audio-visual (matched-guise) test is used to measure whether listeners’ accentedness judgments can be modulated depending on the type of face that they see. American and Indian English were used as different English varieties and presented with either a White female face or a South Asian female face. Results show that listeners’ accentedness judgments increased for Indian English compared to American English. Importantly, the increase in accentedness judgments was also observed when both American English and Indian English were presented with a South Asian face compared to a White face. These findings suggest that linguistic evaluations are modulated by non-linguistic factors and that speech perception is socially gated.
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