16th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Dresden, Germany
September 6-10, 2015

The Effect of Speakers' Regional Varieties on Listeners' Decision-Making

Adrian Leemann (1), Camilla Bernardasci (2), Francis Nolan (1)

(1) University of Cambridge, UK
(2) Universität Zürich, Switzerland

It has been widely reported that speech provides cues to a speaker's regional background. Little is known about how such cues influence human behavior, however. In the present study we used a matched-guise design to test how speakers' regional accents affect listeners' decision-making. In three scenarios, 72 subjects from three regions in Switzerland were asked to choose either the Standard German, Bern, or Zurich German speaker when asked to select a secretary, surgeon, or travel companion. Results revealed that preferences differed depending on the scenario. We further report two results that have not been described before: (1) the Standard accent was least preferred in all scenarios; (2) in-group favoritism seems to apply only partially to the Swiss context: the Zurich variety was the most preferred variety for all listener groups. We discuss implications from the point of view of accent prestige and social identity theory.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Leemann, Adrian / Bernardasci, Camilla / Nolan, Francis (2015): "The effect of speakers' regional varieties on listeners' decision-making", In INTERSPEECH-2015, 1670-1674.