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The effects of foreign accents on employment‐related decisions

Megumi Hosoda (Department of Psychology, San Jose State University, San Jose, California, USA)
Eugene Stone‐Romero (Department of Management, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 16 February 2010

6160

Abstract

Purpose

Although statistical evidence clearly demonstrates discrimination against foreign‐accented individuals in the workplace, surprisingly little research attention has been paid to how such individuals are evaluated when they apply for jobs. Thus, the aim of this paper is to examine the effects of applicant accent on access‐related employment decisions across four jobs that differed on job status and communication demands.

Design/methodology/approach

The study used a 3 (applicant accent: Standard American English, French, and Japanese) × 2 (job status: low vs high)×2 (communication demands: low vs high) mixed‐factorial design, and data from 286 college students at two different locations.

Findings

Results show that in comparison with French‐accented applicants, Japanese‐accented applicants fared worse on employment‐related decisions, especially for jobs that had high communication demands, even after controlling for applicant understandability and location. French‐accented applicants were viewed as favorably as, or more favorably than, Standard American English‐accented applicants.

Research limitations/implications

Applicant accent was confounded with applicant names. Thus, it is not known whether the obtained results are due to applicant accent, names, or both.

Practical implications

It was found that organizations could do one of the following: use structured interviews; train interviewers on potential biases against foreign‐accented applicants; and provide more individuating information to reduce the effects of accent‐based stereotypes on employment‐related decisions.

Originality/value

The paper considers the communication demands of jobs and job status as influences on the evaluation of foreign‐accented applicants.

Keywords

Citation

Hosoda, M. and Stone‐Romero, E. (2010), "The effects of foreign accents on employment‐related decisions", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 113-132. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683941011019339

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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