Northern = smart and Southern = nice: The development of accent attitudes in the U.S.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jasmine M. DeJesus, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Adults evaluate others based on their speech, yet little is known of the developmental trajectory by which accent attitudes are acquired. Here we investigate the development of American children's attitudes about Northern- and Southern-accented American English. Children in Illinois (the “North”) and Tennessee (the “South”) evaluated the social desirability, personality characteristics, and geographic origins of Northern- and Southern-accented individuals. Five- to 6-year-old children in Illinois preferred the Northern-accented speakers as potential friends, yet did not demonstrate knowledge of any stereotypes about the different groups; 5–6-year-old children in Tennessee did not show a preference towards either type of speaker. Nine- to 10-year-old children in both Illinois and Tennessee evaluated the Northern-accented individuals as sounding “smarter” and “in charge”, and the Southern-accented individuals as sounding “nicer.” Thus, older children endorse similar stereotypes to those observed in adulthood. These accent attitudes develop in parallel across children in different regions and reflect both positive and negative assessments of a child's own group.

Additional Information

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Language: English
Date: 2013
Social cognition, Language, Stereotypes, Accent attitudes, Social preferences

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