The effects of perceived expertise on the evaluations of persuasive messages in healthcare communication by standard accented vs. non-standard accented Dutch speakers.

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The use of non-standard accented speakers in commercial persuasive contexts has already been investigated extensively. However, the influence of non-standard accentedness in noncommercial persuasive settings remained underexplored. Therefore, the current study investigated this matter by analysing how perceived expertise affected the evaluations of a non-standard accented speaker (Brabant) vs. standard accented speaker (Randstad) in persuasive healthcare communication. Assessing the impact of perceived expertise on the evaluations of non-standard accented speech in a healthcare context was relevant due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic since, throughout this pandemic, there have been several nonstandard accented virologists (cf. experts) trying to convince society to follow the restrictions and guidelines. The findings revealed that, overall, the Brabant speaker was not deemed more or less persuasive than the Randstad speaker; however, for both accents, high expertise showed a stronger level of persuasiveness than low expertise. This suggests that in the case of persuasive healthcare communication, listeners primarily rely on the speakers’ degree of expertise rather than the type of accent involved. In contrast, concerning attitudinal evaluations, the Brabant speaker was downgraded on all dimensions (competence, status and dynamism), regardless of perceived expertise. Finally, both speakers were evaluated similarly on comprehensibility, except for when expertise was high. In the high expertise condition, the Brabant speaker was regarded as less comprehensible than the Randstad speaker. This potentially implies that listeners become more critical of non-standard accented speech when the speaker has a profession in which standard pronunciation might be the norm.
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