Abstract

Foreign-accented speech categorizes the speaker as an outgroup individual with a lower linguistic competence and a different knowledge heritage from a native speaker. Here we explore whether the identification of an individual as a native or a foreign speaker has an impact on trivia statement judgments, regardless of her foreign-accented speech. Italian native participants first read a bio description of a native and of a foreign speaker and then rate to what degree a series of statements associated with each of the speakers makes sense (Studies 1 and 2) or are true (Study 3). Importantly, the fluency processing between native and foreign speakers was kept constant by using a written presentation of the materials. Under-informative statements such as ‘Some frogs are amphibians’ were tested in Study 1. The results of Study 1 show more acceptable judgments when the sentences were associated with the foreign speaker. Unknown facts about world knowledge such as ‘Butterflies do not see gray’ were tested in Studies 2 and 3. The results show more acceptable (Study 2) and more true (Study 3) judgments when the sentences were associated with the foreign speaker. In addition, in Study 3 the foreign speaker was considered more trustworthy than the native speaker in a rating test at the end of the main judgment-sentence task. Our findings show that linguistic identity per se has an impact on evaluation judgments, suggesting that message interpretation cannot be dissociated from who is communicating the message.

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