The Implications of Sounding Like a Stereotype: Cognition and African American English
This event is part of the Language and Social Justice Initiative Speaker Series hosted by The Language Center at the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF SOUNDING LIKE A STEREOTYPE: Cognition and African American English
Dr. Rachel Elizabeth Weissler
Postdoctoral Research Fellow Psychology, Linguistics, and Black Studies at College of Arts and Sciences, University of Oregon
February 9, 5:00-6:30pm ET (Virtual Event)
This research investigates the relationship between perception of race and perception of emotion by operationalizing the Angry Black Woman Trope through survey and eye-tracking methods. In the first study, participants listened to isolated words from an African American English (AAE) speaker and a Standardized American English (SdAE) speaker in happy, neutral, and angry prosodies, and were asked to indicate perceived race and emotion of the speaker. Results showed that SdAE was rated whitest in the happy condition, whereas AAE was rated blackest in neutral and angry conditions. In the second study, participant experiential linguistic knowledge was measured. It was hypothesized that listeners with higher experiential linguistic knowledge of AAE would show less bias, determined by identifying emotional speech with emotional and racialized image stimuli as recorded through the virtual eye-tracker. The results indicate that participants have a broad range of experiential linguistic knowledge with AAE, and trends in the data suggest that higher usage can predict less bias.
Rachel is a postdoctoral scholar in Psychology, Linguistics, and Black Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on the linguistic multidimensionality of individuals, and how different intersecting identities, communities, and environments influence perception and processing of standardized and minoritized language varieties. She uses theories and methodologies from sociolinguistics, neurolinguistics, and psycholinguistics to investigate how American English-speaking listeners cognitively interact with Black and white individuals. She also engages in multiple public linguistics efforts, most consistently through her role as Production Assistant for A Way With Words Radio Show and Podcast.