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Language Attitudes : The Role of Fluency

Dragojevic, Marko
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Communication
Degree Supervisor:
Howard Giles
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Communication, Sociolinguistics, and Social psychology
Processing fluency
Language attitudes
White noise
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2015

Past research on the social evaluation of speech styles, or language attitudes, shows that, worldwide and cross-culturally, foreign- and other-nonstandard accented speakers tend to be rated less favorably on various traits (e.g., intelligence, friendliness), compared to their native- and standard-accented counterparts, respectively. Such findings have typically been explained with reference to categorization and stereotyping. Namely, listeners use language cues (e.g., accent) to make an inference about speakers' social group membership(s) and, in turn, attribute to them stereotypic traits associated with those (inferred) group memberships.

This dissertation tested an additional (though not contradictory) explanatory mechanism for the language attitudes process, which predicts that more negative attitudes toward a particular accent can also be triggered simply by the difficulty associated with processing speech produced in that accent (i.e., disruptions in listeners' processing fluency). Three experiments were conducted to test this processing fluency hypothesis. In all three experiments, participants listened to an audio recording of a short story read in one of several accents (e.g., Standard American English, Punjabi English, Polish English). In the first two experiments, processing fluency was manipulated by varying the quality of listening conditions under which listeners heard the recording -- i.e., quiet or mixed with background white noise of various intensity levels. In the third experiment, processing fluency was manipulated by varying the strength of speakers' foreign accents --

i.e., mild or heavy. Overall, results of the three experiments revealed a remarkably similar pattern of results, largely consistent with the processing fluency hypothesis. In general, factors which disrupted listeners' processing fluency -- i.e., the presence of background white noise (Experiments 1 and 2), a stronger foreign accent (Experiment 3) -- also had a negative effect on listeners' language attitudes. Mediation analyses showed that the significant effects of noise (Experiments 1 and 2) and foreign accent strength (Experiment 3) on language attitudes were mediated by processing fluency and affect. Taken together, findings of the present research provide compelling evidence for an additional explanatory mechanism of the language attitudes by demonstrating that listeners' processing fluency can influence their language attitudes, independent of stereotypes.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (129 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Marko Dragojevic
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