Effects of Speech Accents on Perceptions of Intelligence in Multicultural University Environments Today


Author: Roshni Raheja (Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, India)
Speaker: Roshni Raheja
Topic: Social Psychology of Language
CALA 2020 General Session


Abstract

Research in the field of Language Attitudes and Social Perceptions have proven associations between a speaker’s accent, and a listener’s perceptions of various aspects of their identity – intelligence, socio-economic background, race, region of origin, friendliness, etc. This process of ‘profiling’ results in discrimination, and issues faced in various social institutions where verbal communication is of great importance, such as education environments, or even during recruitment.

The focus of this study will be the relationship between accents on English and the perceptions of the specific factor of intelligence, as well as the cultural connotations this rises from. This study, through a mix of experimental and qualitative methods, intends to apply existing dominant theories from Social Psychology and Sociolinguistics to a multicultural university setting, with the aim of testing if the theories still stand true in alternative contexts, to begin an exploration into the accent perceptions and understanding of the idea of intelligence among the youth of contemporary India, and to analyze the effect of globalization and dissolution of cultural boundaries on accent-based biases, if any.

Keywords: Intelligence, accent, social perception, multicultural environments, verbal communication