Journal of Language and Discrimination, Vol 4, No 1 (2020)

The impact of British accents on perceptions of eyewitness statements

Lara A. Frumkin, Amanda Thompson
Issued Date: 6 May 2020


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

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DOI: 10.1558/jld.39368


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