When it matters how you pronounce it: The influence of regional accents on job interview outcome


Tamara Rakić, DFG Research Unit Person Perception, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Leutragraben 1, D-07743 Jena, Germany (e-mail: tamara.rakic@uni-jena.de).


The visual dimension has featured prominently in person perception in the last 25 years. Alone, this dimension cannot give the complete ‘picture’ of others because language and speech (i.e., the auditory dimension) are also highly informative. Social-cognition research investigates the role of auditory information for impression formation. In a series of experiments, we tested perceived competence, hirability, and socio-intellectual status of different targets based on their regional accents. Given identical content of statements in different conditions of an alleged job interview, regional German accents (Saxon, Bavarian, and Berlin) resulted in lower perceived competence and hirability than standard German, even though the Bavarian accent at the same time resulted in higher ratings of socio-intellectual status compared to other regional accents (Experiment 1). These findings were confirmed when using a broader population sample and a ‘matched guise’ technique (Experiment 2). Our findings indicate that regional accents, similar to faces, can be very powerful in creating differentiated pictures of individuals.