Regional accents

Research says people with Birmingham accents are perceived to be less intelligent

Ambitious people from the West Midlands may have to ditch their Brummie accents if they want to succeed in life, according to a doctor who researched the perception of regional dialects.

The research, conducted by Dr Lance Workman and Brummie Hayley-Jane Smith at Bath Spa University, found people with the distinctive regional accent were perceived to be “less intelligent”.

In a controlled experiment participants were shown pictures of young women and a recording of what they were told was their voice and asked to rank them in terms of attractiveness and intelligence.

The Yorkshire accent scored the highest mark, indicating that some regional accents are no longer stigmatised because the mass media has shifted towards using news readers with regional accents, according to Dr Workman.

Despite the success of personalities like television presenters Cat Deeley and Adrian Chiles, and comedians Frank Skinner and Lenny Henry, he added: “Unfortunately, the Birmingham accent was received so negatively it was ranked less intelligent than silence.”

Controversially Workman said that research showed people acssociated the Birmingham accent with criminality and untrustworthiness, and said the accent was “clearly taking longer to evolve culturally”.

The research will be presented today at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Dublin.

What do you think of Dr Workman’s research? Contact [email protected].

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