Why don't we believe non-native speakers? The influence of accent on credibility

Published By: 
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Published Date: 
2010, July 19
Article Excerpt: 

... people perceive statements as less truthful when spoken by non-native speakers. When people listen to accented speech, the difficulty they encounter reduces “processing fluency.” But instead of perceiving the statements as more difficult to understand, they perceive them as less truthful. Consequently, non-native speakers who have an accent are seen as less credible.

Accent might reduce the credibility of non-native job seekers, eyewitnesses, reporters or news anchors. As we showed, such insidious impact of accent is even apparent when the non-native speaker is merely a messenger. Most likely, neither the native nor the non-native speakers are aware of this, making the difficulty of understanding accented speech an ever present reason for perceiving non-native speakers as less credible.