Northern children associated sounding Southern with being 'foreign' & less intelligent.
One of the ways that the US bias against Southern culture and identity is expressed is through the (often undisguised) contempt for the Southern dialect (or accent). Southerners are frequently discriminated against in the US business world, for instance, if they speak in their native manner. Sadly, as noted in a recent National Public Radio feature, many Southerners have made an effort to disguise their accent or give it up completely because of the strong anti-Southern bias in the United States. This is just one of the many ways that the USA undermines Southern identity and culture.
The Daily Mail (UK) has published an article which reports on a recent study that explored the association in the mind of young people in the USA between the Southern accent and a lack of intelligence. The article explains:
According to a new study by psychology professors Katherine Kinzler and Jasmine DeJesus, children display such biases as early as age five, and it leads them to make associations linking Northern accents with being ‘smarter’ and ‘in charge’ and Southern accents with being ‘nice.’
The researchers say that the results show that while parental influence has much to do with how young children develop biases against certain accents, it also has a lot to do with what they hear and are exposed to on a day-to-day basis.
The article goes on to explain that Northern children associated the Southern accent with being ‘foreign.’ Meanwhile, Southern children, because of the lack of Southern-sounding people in the US media, did not associate sounding either Southern or Northern with being ‘foreign.’ Both Northern and Southern children associated the Southern accent with being ‘nicer’ while Northern children still demonstrated a preference for being friends with other Northern children. The article concludes with some telling statements:
…Southern children associate Northern accents with prestige simply because nearly all the celebrities and individuals of high standing they hear in the media speak with a Northern accent, creating a self-perpetuating stereotype that firmly entrenches itself into the minds of children by at least the age of nine.
Still, the researchers were unable to prove whether parental influence or cultural norms have a more long-lasting impact on these biases.
Nevertheless, they have managed to show that regardless of where these influences come from, children are extraordinarily susceptible to picking up accent biases starting from a very young age and urge parents to think about these implications when raising their children.
Also see: US war on the Texas accent