What is it about?
We investigated the effects of perceived race (Black, white), region (southern or non-southern), and gender on memory for spoken language. We found a strong bias toward remembering speech produced by white talkers better than that for Black talkers - independent of listener race. Non-southern white voices tend to be favored in memory.
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Why is it important?
Age, gender, race, region, mood - these are all traits that we might infer when we talk with someone. The pervasive belief that there is a standard form of American English, and the idea that this (non-existent) standard is strongly associated with the idea of "unaccentedness" and and whiteness, contribute to vast differences in social capital across American society. We found that these ideologies are pervasive at the level of memory for spoken words - with words produced by white talkers being remembered better than those produced by Black talkers, for both Black and white listener groups. Discovering that these biases exist and reflect asymmetries that exist in our society, hopes to lead to awareness and subsequently change in both scientific and organizational practices.
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This page is a summary of: The episodic encoding of talker voice attributes across diverse voices, Journal of Memory and Language, February 2023, Elsevier,
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