Children's sociolinguistic evaluations of nice foreigners and mean Americans

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: Three experiments investigated 5- to 6-year-old monolingual English-speaking American children's sociolinguistic evaluations of others based on their accent (native, foreign) and social actions (nice, mean, neutral). In Experiment 1, children expressed social preferences for native-accented English speakers over foreign-accented speakers, and they judged the native-accented speakers to be 'American.' In Experiments 2 and 3, the accented speakers were depicted as being nicer than the relatively meaner native speakers. Children's social preferences and judgments of others' personalities varied as a function of behavior; in particular, children disliked individuals who committed negative social actions. In contrast, children's judgments of nationality hinged exclusively on accent; across all conditions, children evaluated native-accented English speakers to be 'American,' regardless of whether they were nice or mean. These findings contribute to an understanding of the nature of children's reasoning about language as a social category and have implications for future research investigating children's thinking about language as a marker of national group identity.

Additional Information

Developmental Psychology
Language: English
Date: 2013
language, nationality, social cognition, sociolinguistic evaluations, English-speaking American children, native-accented speakers

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