Which accent is the most attractive?
We were commissioned by Third City to carry out research on behalf of a well-known dating website. When it comes to first impressions, they wanted to find out how people react to accents. What do they assume about that person because of how they speak? Are some accents more attractive than others?
We were asked to assess the reactions to different regional accents, in particular to:
- Explore the impact of accents on perceptions of a potential date
- Establish which accents are most strongly associated with ten traits such as being ‘friendly’, ‘funny’ and ‘sophisticated’
- Explore the impact of celebrity personalities on the perception of accents
- Look at the impact of accents on a first date
This research was carried out online. We sourced males and females with 19 different accents to read out a generic sentence. The accents included Australian, Yorkshire, American, French, Spanish and Cornish.
A representative sample of 750 British adults listened to each accent and ranked the person on, for example, how romantic, honest or reliable they sounded. There were also asked whether celebrities made them feel different about accents. We also asked whether they had said yes or no to a date purely on accent.
The research showed Received Pronunciation (RP) to be the nation’s favourite accent, followed by Edinburgh, Australian and Irish. Aside from RP, men were most attracted to the London accent, while women love Mancunian. Celebrities have definitely shaped perceptions of accents. For example, the female Geordie accent was associated with Cheryl Cole.
The French accent was ranked only sixteenth out of nineteen for attractiveness, and Italian came in only slightly higher at thirteenth. 22% of those surveyed admitted that they had gone on a date with someone because they liked their accent. Some also admitted ‘playing up’ how they spoke because they thought it sounded more attractive.
The dating agency used this research as PR material for their website. They also plan to use it to help with match-making on their website in the future.
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