Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Lawrence Hosman, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate how differences in regional dialect affect students’ perceptions of teacher credibility. In a broader sense, the research aimed to improve teacher-student interactions by identifying communication barriers created through cultural differences. 109 students at the University of Southern Mississippi who identified as natives to the American South participated in the study. 52 of the participants listened to a lecture given by a Standard American English speaker, and the other 57 participants listened to the same lecture delivered in American Southern English. Both groups completed a survey with twelve seven-point semantic differential scales, measuring participants’ perceptions of four dimensions of speaker credibility: competence, trustworthiness, caring, and dynamism. Results showed that a significant difference existed between groups only for the dynamism dimension of credibility. Students who heard the Standard American English recording evaluated the speaker as significantly more energetic, and therefore more dynamic, than those who heard the American Southern English recording. Interestingly, students in both groups evaluated the speaker as exhibiting highly positive credibility traits. Therefore, it is evident that lecture content and other voice elements likely affected credibility attributions.

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