The effects of speech style and social class background on social judgements of speakers


Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA. (A more detailed report of the results is also available.)


Male speakers of either standard or Spanish-accented English were presented to 80 undergraduates as individuals with either lower-class or middle-class backgrounds. The students rated each speaker on status, solidarity, stereotype, and speech characteristics and also made social distance judgements. For all measures, a significant interaction reflected the fact that lower-class accented speakers were perceived much less favourably than the corresponding lower-class standard speakers while the differences associated with speech styles among middle-class speakers were smaller. The results are discussed in terms of the assumptions listeners presumably make about accented speakers’ social class and beliefs.