Social Psychology: Interactions Between Native and Non-Native Speakers



Explicit and implicit prejudice 

  • Bias against people who speak with a foreign accent. Appears already early in childhood, and might even be stronger than racial bias. It is not enough to reduce explicit bias 
  • implicit bias - Automatic and outside our awareness - Fed by wide-spread stereotypes in society - Predictive of behaviour - Has a stronger influence in ambiguous cases

The role of expectations 

  • Our expectations influence our perception If we expect to hear an accent, we might hear it even when it’s not there.
  • Our expectations can also be self-fulfilling by influencing our behaviour and thus inducing the expected behaviour 

The role of processing fluency 

  • Foreign-accented speech is harder to process than native accented speech. Relative difficulty of processing might be misattributed to other negative reasons (e.g., lower credibility, less pleasing). Awareness can reduce effect but to eliminate it. Experience of interaction with non-native speakers can help reduce it (only first step) 

Overall summary

  • Social interactions are influenced by a myriad of social and cognitive factors: explicit and implicit prejudice, expectations, processing fluency, language background. Many factors outside our awareness. Can influence our behaviour and impression of situation. Can also lead to self-fulfilling prophecies
  • Awareness and experience can sometimes help mitigate the influence of some of these factors, but these are only partial and initial steps 
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Explicit and implicit prejudice

  • There are more bilinguals and multilingual than there are monolinguals
  • Hosoda, Nguyen & Stone-Romero (2012): prejudice and hiring decisions, native accent always favoured over Mexican-Spanish accent 
  • Tsalikis, DeShields & LaTour (1991): listen to identical pitches - 3 American English, 3 Greek, rate salesperson 
  • Livingston, Schilpzand & Erez (2017): message about new cafe in neighbourhood, ppts more likely to choose when message in native accent 
  • Fuerters, Gottidiener, Martin, Gilbert & Giles (2012): "matched guise", meta-analysis found effect size large, especially when judgement is on competence 
  • Kinzler, Dupoux & Spelke (2007): infants showed preference for native speaker, 5 year olds' friendship preferences 
  • Kinzler, Shutts, Dejesus & Spelke (2009): native accent bias is larger than the own race bias 
  • Dovidio & Gaertner (2000): racial attitudes questionnaire + new programme, discrimination for ambiguous stimuli/candidates strongest 
  • Implicit prejudice:
    • Implicitly learn stereotypes from our environment, might not be aware and may conflict with explicit attitudes + beliefs, automatically activated, influence our impressions and actions 
  • Implicit Association Test (IAT): target groups often show implicit bias towards own ingroup 
  • Pantos & Perkins (2012): pts showed bias against foreign-accented speech 
  • Stanley, Sokol-Hessner, Banaji & Phelps (2011): IAT predicted behaviour beyond explicit racism 
  • Greenwald, Smith, Siram, Bar Anan & Nosek (2009): implicit + explicit measures predicted voting
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The role of expectations

  • To interpret incoming input we rely on context and on our knowledge about patterns in the world
  • Rubin (1992):
    • Ppts heard lecture and saw picture of lecture
    • Real speaker: native speaker of American English 
    • Test: cloze task, speaker rating 
  • When presented with a picture of an Asian woman:
    • Ppts rated speech as less intelligible and more foreign-accented 
    • Performed less well on the cloze task 
  • Expectations can distort perception, if we expect to hear an accent, we might hear it even when it's not there 
  • Our expectations can also be self-fulfilling by influencing our behaviour and thus inducing the expected behaviour (didn't review evidence) 
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The role of processing fluency

  • Availability heuristic, we infer from ease of processing about stimuli's properties 
  • Relative ease of processing is (mis)attributed to: o Clarity (Whittlesea, Jacoby & Girard, 1990) o Duration (e.g., Masson & Caldwell, 1998) o Loudness (Jacoby, Allan, Collins & Larwill, 1988) o Previous exposure (e.g., Whittlesea, Jacoby & Girard, 1990) o Fame (e.g., Jacoby, Kelley, Brown, & Jasechko, 1989) o Liking (e.g., Reber, Schwarz & Winkielman, 2004) o Aesthetic quality (Reber, Schwarz & Winkielman, 2004) o Moral acceptability (Laham, Alter & Goodwin, 2009) o Safety (Song & Schwarz, 2009) o Truthfulness (e.g., Reber & Schwarz, 1999)
  • Accented speech is harder to process: takes more effort, slower to process, less accurate 
  • Lev-Ari & Keysar (2010): experiment on intuition in knowledge assessment, rated how likely facts are to be true, ppts rated accented speech as less truthful
  • Awareness can mitigate the effect of mild accent, but not of heavy accent 
  • Awareness may not be enough to mitigate effect of difficulty, but experience reduces difficulty 
  • Grabka & Lev-Ari: exposure to stories by British/Polish speakers
    • Truth judgement - believed British accent more but exposure to Polish reduced bias 
    • Accent comprehension task - exposure to Polish improved accent comprehension 
  • The improvement in accent comprehension mediated the effect of accent exposure on truth judgement 
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Emotion in a second language

  • Bilinguals are less emotional in their second language (Harris, Aycicegi & Gleason, 2003)
  • Why? Second language often learned in classroom setting, not associated with use in emotional contexts (other suggestion: influence of later age of acquisition) 
  • Asian disease problem - gains & losses 
  • Kahneman & Tversky (1979): Asian disease problem - which medicine do you choose?
  • Keysar, Hayakawa & An (2003): Asian disease problem, people show framing effects in their L1 but not in their L2
  • Greater loss aversion in L1, greater rationality in L2
  • Could these be benefits for political and corporate negotiations? 
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