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Competent and Warm? How Mismatching Appearance and Accent Influence First Impressions

  • Most research on ethnicity has focused on visual cues. However, accents are strong social cues that can match or contradict visual cues. We examined understudied reactions to people whose one cue suggests one ethnicity, whereas the other cue contradicts it. In an experiment conducted in Germany, job candidates spoke with an accent either congruent or incongruent with their (German or Turkish) appearance. Based on ethnolinguistic identity theory, we predicted that accents would be strong cues for categorization and evaluation. Based on expectancy violations theory we expected that incongruent targets would be evaluated more extremely than congruent targets. Both predictions were confirmed: accents strongly influenced perceptions and Turkish-looking German-accented targets were perceived as most competent of all targets (and additionally most warm). The findings show that bringing together visual and auditory information yields a more complete picture of the processes underlying impression formation.

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Author:Karolina HansenORCiDGND, Tamara RakićORCiDGND, Melanie C. SteffensGND
Parent Title (English):Experimental Psychology
Place of publication:Göttingen
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2017
Date of Publication (online):2019/08/20
Tag:ethnolinguistic identity; expectancy violations; impression formation; nonnative speech; person perception; stereotypes
GND Keyword:Akzent; Erwartung; Ethnizität; Soziale Wahrnehmung
First Page:27
Last Page:36
This version of the article may not completely replicate the final authoritative version published in Experimental Psychology at https://doi.org/10.1027/1618-3169/a000348. It is not the version of record and is therefore not suitable for citation. Please do not copy or cite without the permission of the author(s).
DDC classes:100 Philosophie und Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 400 Sprache, Linguistik
Open Access?:ja
Linguistics-Classification:Psycholinguistik / Kognitive Linguistik
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt