Item Details

The impact of British accents on perceptions of eyewitness statements

Issue: Vol 4 No. 1 (2020) Special issue: Indexing gender, culture and cognition

Journal: Journal of Language and Discrimination

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/jld.39368


The current study looked at the impact of British regional accents on evaluations
of eyewitness testimony in criminal trials. Ninety participants were
randomly presented with one of three video recordings of eyewitness testimony
manipulated to be representative of Received Pronunciation (RP), Multicultural
London English (MLE) or Birmingham accents. The impact of the accent
was measured through eyewitness (1) accuracy, (2) credibility, (3) deception,
(4) prestige and (5) trial outcome (defendant guilt and sentence). RP was rated
more favourably than MLE on accuracy, credibility and prestige. Accuracy
and prestige were significant, with RP rated more highly than a Birmingham
accent. RP appears to be viewed more favourably than the MLE and Birmingham
accents, although the witnesses’ accents did not affect ratings of defendant
guilt. Taken together, these findings show a preference for eyewitnesses to have
RP speech over some regional accents.

Author: Lara A. Frumkin, Amanda Thompson

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