Student Author(s)

Raquel Mendizabal

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown

Document Type


Event Date



Past studies on speaker identification suggest that listeners can identify speaker ethnicity and gender from auditory information (Lass et. al., 1979; Thomas & Reaser, 2004; Perrachione et. al., 2008). A collateral finding of a study examining the effects of phonetic complexity structure and temporal manipulation on ability to identify speakers was that female listeners were significantly more accurate than male listeners in identifying speakers (Trent-Brown et. al., 2011). This finding suggests that listener characteristics might affect accuracy of speaker identification. Our research examined the extent to which language experience affects listeners' accuracy of speaker identification. We hypothesized that participants who had lived in more places and more regions would be more accurate in identifying speakers. We expected that participants who had lived in places with a higher European American population would more accurately identify European American speakers and participants who had lived in places with a higher African American population would more accurately identify African American speakers. We predicted that multilingual participants, having greater exposure to linguistic variation, would have higher accuracy in speaker identification. This study will show the impact of language experience on accuracy of identifying a speaker's gender and ethnicity. The implications of the results can extend to issues of person perception, impression management, and implicit bias in institutions. Accuracy in recognizing a speaker's ethnicity or gender based on language experience could lead listeners to make stereotypical assumptions, which could hinder or increase the chances for an applicant’s occupational mobility and success.


This research was supported by the Jacob E. Nyenhuis Student/Faculty Collaborativee Research Grant.