Regional accents modulate perspective in geographical space

Psychol Res. 2021 Oct 18. doi: 10.1007/s00426-021-01607-1. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

In this study, participants listened to first-person statements that mentioned a character who was approaching a geographical location close to (Tenerife, Canary Islands) or distant from the participant (Madrid, Spanish peninsula), pronounced with either the participants' local or a distal regional accent. Participants more often judged approaching statements as coherent when they refer to a close place pronounced with local accent or refer to a distant place with distal accent, rather than when they refer to a close place with distal accent or to a distant place with local accent. These results strongly suggest that the local accent induces listeners to keep their own geographical perspective, whereas the distal accent determines shifting to another's perspective. In sum, a subtle paralinguistic cue, the speaker's regional accent, modulates the participants' geographic perspective when they listen to identical first-person sentences with approaching deictic verbs.