A study of the correlation between a speaker’s appearance and people’s perception of their accent
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 01:09 authored by Zhi Li
There is a plethora of research focusing on accent discrimination and its effect on migrants, but few research projects discuss the correlation between accents and stereotypical perceptions. Audiences have different emotional reactions toward the same content when it is delivered by different patterns and volumes. Sociolinguistic research shows that accent as a part of an individual’s identity is being associated with cultural habitus and reflective of ethnic or racial background. My research project examines whether speakers’ physical appearance can influence people’s perceptions of their accents and focuses on the correlation between prototypicality and the connotations of accents. Two experiments have been carried out: In Study 1, an audio soundtrack has been recorded by a male of Asian physical appearance who is a native speaker of Australian English (AusE). 50 Macquarie University students completed an online questionnaire and assessed the speaker’s accent. In Study 2, a focus group was recruited from the online study, watch a video recording of the same speech, subsequently discuss the speaker’s accent and then complete the same questionnaire again. The goal of this experiment is to find out if people’s perceptions regarding the same speaker’s accent change when the speaker presents more features and whether stereotypes can create cognitive biases towards people’s accent. The results support the hypophysis of my study. It seems that people’s recognition of accents is influenced by the speaker’s appearance. My argument and research design for my doctoral thesis will build on this result and further study the correlation between appearance and accent.