University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


Experience, attitudes, and expectations have been identified as separate influences on speech perception and comprehension across groups. In this study, we investigate the interaction among these three variables. 58 Australia-born participants completed an online survey and a vowel categorization task. The survey examined participants’ experience with Vietnamese-accented English and their attitudes towards Asians. The vowel categorization task examined participants’ recovery of a Vietnamese-accented speaker’s intended vowels. Half of the participants were told to expect a Vietnamese accent whereas the other half were not. Results indicated that the relationship between listener expectations and group attitudes varied according to whether or not participants had experience with the Vietnamese accent. This interaction was most clearly reflected on the ‘book’ vowel. Compared to participants who did not expect a Vietnamese accent, had no experience with the Vietnamese accent, but positive attitudes towards the Vietnamese group, those who expected a Vietnamese accent showed a decrease in accuracy on ‘book’ categorization. A decrease in ‘book’ categorization accuracy was also found for those having experience with the accent but negative attitudes. In contrast, an increase in accuracy was found for those having no experience with the Vietnamese accent and negative attitudes towards the Vietnamese group, and those having experience with the accent and positive attitudes. We concluded that expectations, experience and attitudes interact in their relationship with speech perception.