Is this the reason you’re not hired? What accents say to perceptions

Image created using AI. Marcus Moloko

Reading an interesting newsletter which highlighted how different accents were perceived, we found that how you speak often leads to a subconscious judgment about you, based on your accent.

How you speak, falls into your audience’s accent bias even in dictating job prospects, level of attractiveness, intelligence, and even friendliness.

This points to an interesting realization that dialects shape daily life.

This is according to, which called in experts to look into different accents worldwide. A study of 5,000 participants was conducted to uncover which country had the highest odds of having the most and least friendly accents.


  • Americans have the highest odds of being considered friendly, with 1 in 5 respondents deeming the American accent to be the friendliest (19.5%)
  • British follows closely in second, with 13.6% of participants identifying the accent to be the most friendly (13.6%)
  • Norwegian received the least amount of votes with just 0.8% of respondents perceiving this accent to be friendly

Linguistics expert Dr. Christopher Strelluf provided insight into the perception and stereotypes of accents and it was interesting to read some of his analysis.

The Associate Professor of Linguistics at The University of Warwick, Strelluf wrote:

Attitudes toward language varieties usually reflect the ideas we have about people who speak those varieties. If people around the world think American English sounds friendly, it’s good news for Americans—because it means people think of Americans as friendly people. More nuanced accent labels would likely reveal even greater variability.

For instance, Americans would probably have different evaluations of the friendliness of English they associate with the big cities of the northeastern seaboard compared with the rural areas of the southeastern US. Many people in the UK would feel that accents of the English North are much friendlier than those of the English South.”

The meanings of Englishes globally are also changing rapidly across a range of dimensions. For instance, while British Englishes have historically provided an international model for ‘correct’ English, people who live in countries where English is being learned for access to the global marketplace increasingly prefer American Englishes as their standard. As such, the attitudes toward English in this survey reveal the fundamental ways we continue to navigate our social relationships through language and through our ideas about language.”

While most of what the professor notes can arguably be on point.  It is important to be cautious when discussing perceived friendliness based on accents. This generalization can be subjective or even perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

Accents remain diverse and carry complex connotations.

When reading several research papers we pick up that there are some patterns to how different cultures filter through accents.

Perceived friendliness had higher pitches which conveyed enthusiasm, warmth, and openness. This could be derived from how babies speak.  It’s almost primal.

Clearer pronunciation and using casual language often were perceived as more accommodating and friendly, with slower speech also a factor as it made the speaker easier to understand.

Listing specific accents as friendlier and others as less friendly does more harm than good. These features remain as generalizations and do not apply to all speakers of any particular accent.

It does help to know that tone or tonality is judged or plays a part in that first interview.  The added advantage never hurt.

Also read: Huawei launches the Huawei Fusion solar Luna 2.0 Smart PV solution in SA



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