The effect of Hispanic accents on employment decisions

Megumi Hosoda (Department of Psychology, San José State University, San José, California, USA)
Lam T. Nguyen (Department of Psychology, San José State University, San José, California, USA)
Eugene F. Stone‐Romero (Department of Management, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Publication date: 27 April 2012

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the fact that Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing segment of the population and that 44 percent of Hispanics of 18 years of age and older speak English less than very well, research examining the impact of Spanish‐accented English on employment‐related decisions has been scarce. Therefore, the present study aimed to examine the effects of the accent (standard American English and Mexican Spanish) of a hypothetical job applicant on employment‐related judgments and hiring decisions.

Design/methodology/approach

Participants made employment‐related decisions (i.e. job suitability ratings, likelihood of a promotion, and hiring decision) and judgments of personal attributes (i.e. perceived competence and warmth) of a hypothetical applicant for an entry‐level software engineering job. The accent of the applicant was manipulated using the matched‐guise technique.

Findings

Results showed that compared to an applicant with a standard American‐English accent, one with a Mexican‐Spanish accent was at a disadvantage when applying for the software engineering job. The Mexican‐Spanish‐accented applicant was rated as less suitable for the job and viewed as less likely to be promoted to a managerial position. In addition, fewer participants decided to hire the Mexican‐Spanish‐accented applicant than the standard American English‐accented applicant.

Practical implications

Given the negative evaluations of the Mexican‐Spanish‐accented applicant, recruiters and interviewers should be selected who do not view foreign accents negatively. Furthermore, organizations should make a conscious effort to regard foreign accents as assets to their businesses.

Originality/value

This research contributes to our understanding of how foreign accents influence decisions that have important economic consequences for individuals.

Keywords

Citation

Hosoda, M., Nguyen, L. and Stone‐Romero, E. (2012), "The effect of Hispanic accents on employment decisions", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 347-364. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683941211220162

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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