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5-Year-Olds May Show Prejudice Against Accents, Study

A Canadian study found that prejudices against unfamiliar accents can start at an early age, with 5-year-olds likely to prefer teachers with local accents to those with regional or different accents. was found to be high.

This result was not what the researchers expected. While previous studies done in the United States and France have shown that children have accent-her biases, the researchers found that Canadian children exposed to a wider variety of accents I thought it had less bias.

In a study published earlier this year in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers asked 144 children aged 5 and 6 to hear a simple sample text read by a variety of speakers with varying accents. After listening, they were asked to rate who would like to be a teacher.

Children indicated a preference for teachers who spoke with the predominant local Canadian accent, and speakers with French, Australian, and Dutch accents were asked how good they thought each speaker was. gave it a lower rating.

“It all started with trying to prove that Canadian children were more receptive than American children, but it didn’t work,” said Elizabeth Johnson, one of the study’s authors, 10. said in a press release in May.

“That really surprised me.”

The children were all from southern Ontario. Studies have shown that even children who were exposed to different accents at home and at school were more likely to choose speakers with a local Canadian accent.

Johnson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, said the idea for the study reflected students’ evaluations of higher education faculty.

She explained that these evaluations often draw on criticism of a particular professor that has less to do with the professor’s style or ability, and more to do with the implicit biases students have.

“Prejudices get stronger with age,” Johnson said. “We read [professor] You may be clearly gendered in some way, or you may be speaking with a distinctly non-native accent. ”

While this bias is often ignored, she noted that it can affect teachers in question.

“When we look at how students evaluate professors, we don’t often pay attention to this kind of language problem. is,” says Johnson.

“We wanted to know, where did it come from?”

To investigate how quickly this prejudice manifests, researchers had to present and evaluate pairs of adult speakers to children aged 5 to 6 years.

In each trial, one speaker had a local predominant Canadian accent and the other had a British, Australian, Dutch, or non-Canadian French accent.

All speakers read the same short story in English.

The children were then asked to choose which speaker they would like to be their teacher and rate how well each speaker would be a teacher.

Children consistently chose speakers with local Canadian accents as their preferred teachers.

They also preferred the Canadian accent more strongly when the alternative was the French accent compared to the Australian accent, but the preference was stronger when the alternative was British and Dutch speakers. No difference in height was observed.

On average, children chose a speaker with a Canadian accent more than 60% of the time, but when they chose a speaker with a French accent instead, they chose a speaker with a Canadian accent more than 80% of the time. I chose

The researchers also recorded how much each child was exposed to different accents in their everyday lives, but found no difference in how the children scored based on their exposure to accents. discovered.

When children were asked to rate “how good” the speakers were as teachers, the children consistently rated speakers with local Canadian accents highly, but none were “bad”. or did not rate them as “very bad” teachers.

The study also suggests that this preference was not solely due to comprehension problems, although comprehension problems also played a role.

Because the paired speakers read the same thing aloud, the researchers found that the non-local accent was more frequently preferred when spoken second because the same part had already been read by the local speaker. I theorized that it would.

Experiments have shown that children have a stronger preference for local Canadian speakers if the speaker with the non-local accent speaks first. Some influence children’s judgment on this task,” the study notes.

But even if the non-local speaker came second and had no comprehension problems, they preferred the local Canadian accent 66% of the time.

According to the researchers, the consistency with which children chose Canadian accents over other accents indicates that students did not simply choose their local accent because they had trouble understanding other accents. There is

“There’s definitely a social bias out there,” says Johnson. “You’re a lot younger than I thought, so I really have to worry.”

The study did not investigate this cause. Researchers acknowledged that a variety of factors may come into play when children choose their preferred teacher.

“Given the binary nature of choice data, we recognize that this type of analysis may oversimplify the rich social decisions that children make in evaluating others. ,” the study points out.

The researchers also found that children rated none of the speakers as less effective as teachers, and that because they were hearing these speakers for the first time, they spent more time with the people behind the voices. I pointed out that I may have made a different evaluation in that case.

Johnson says he wants to do more research to unlock some of these potential confounders.

“We are also interested in better understanding what experiences moderate the initial formation or maintenance of negative language biases in young children.

Identifying the sources of accent bias is “important for society and the way we work, how we make decisions about people’s abilities, and how we choose how to portray people in the media,” she added.

5-Year-Olds May Show Prejudice Against Accents, Study

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