The fluency principle: Why foreign accent strength negatively biases language attitudes

Marko Dragojevic, Howard Giles, Anna Carrie Beck, Nicholas T. Tatum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Two experiments tested the prediction that heavy foreign-accented speakers are evaluated more negatively than mild foreign-accented speakers because the former are perceived as more prototypical (i.e., representative) of their respective group and their speech disrupts listeners’ processing fluency (i.e., is more difficult to process). Participants listened to a mild or heavy Punjabi- (Study 1) or Mandarin-accented (Study 2) speaker. Compared to the mild-accented speaker, the heavy-accented speaker in both studies was attributed less status (but not solidarity), was perceived as more prototypical of their respective group, disrupted listeners’ processing fluency, and elicited a more negative affective reaction. The negative effects of accent strength on status were mediated by processing fluency and sequentially by processing fluency and affect, but not by prototypicality. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-405
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 National Communication Association.


  • Language attitudes
  • accent strength
  • fluency principle
  • foreign accent
  • intergroup
  • processing fluency
  • prototypicality
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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