The influence of accent on perceptions of credibility.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Linguistics
This thesis explores the influence that the New Zealand, Chinese, and Scottish accents have on perceptions of credibility in the New Zealand context. Listener respondents judged the truthfulness of a series of trivia statements, such as “Slugs have four noses”, spoken by six different speakers. The aim was to discover whether speakers of a particular accent are judged as less credible than native speakers. A number of previous studies have employed a similar methodology and reported contradictory results. This thesis contributes to the ongoing discussion on the role that accent plays regarding perceptions of credibility. Results indicate that certain accents are perceived as less credible than others. A mildly accented New Zealand speaker was rated as the most credible, while a mildly accented Scottish speaker was rated as the least credible. Also, this study found that male listeners as well as non-native listeners were more likely to rate speakers as more credible. The results are discussed in light of the previous literature and it is suggested that associated stereotypes and listeners’ familiarity of an accent had an effect on perceptions of credibility.