Does seeing an Asian face make speech sound more accented?
Samuel, Arthur G.
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Zheng, Y. & Samuel, A.G. Atten Percept Psychophys (2017) 79: 1841. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-017-1329-2
Prior studies have reported that seeing an Asian face makes American English sound more accented. The current study investigates whether this effect is perceptual, or if it instead occurs at a later decision stage. We first replicated the finding that showing static Asian and Caucasian faces can shift people’s reports about the accentedness of speech accompanying the pictures. When we changed the static pictures to dubbed videos, reducing the demand characteristics, the shift in reported accentedness largely disappeared. By including unambiguous items along with the original ambiguous items, we introduced a contrast bias and actually reversed the shift, with the Asian-face videos yielding lower judgments of accentedness than the Caucasian-face videos. By changing to a mixed rather than blocked design, so that the ethnicity of the videos varied from trial to trial, we eliminated the difference in accentedness rating. Finally, we tested participants’ perception of accented speech using the selective adaptation paradigm. After establishing that an auditory-only accented adaptor shifted the perception of how accented test words are, we found that no such adaptation effect occurred when the adapting sounds relied on visual information (Asian vs. Caucasian videos) to influence the accentedness of an ambiguous auditory adaptor. Collectively, the results demonstrate that visual information can affect the interpretation, but not the perception, of accented speech.