We are often charmed when we hear English being spoken by someone with a foreign accent. Scottish, Irish, Australian and German are my favorites.
But there is some interesting research that shows while we may be charmed, we are also put on alert because we are all less likely to trust someone with a foreign accent.
It seems we are hard wired to experience these speakers as "others", something different from us.
Scientists from McGill University hooked up test subjects to a type of brain scan and they had them listen to a number of statements in a variety of accents. The subjects were then asked to rank how believable they thought each statement was.
Researchers discovered that when making decisions about trusting a speaker who has the same accent as the listener, the listener would not focus on the speaker's tone of voice, and areas of the brain associated with making inferences based on past experiences were activated.
But when the listener heard voices using a somewhat different accent, the areas of the brain involved in auditory processing were involved a lot more, and listeners seemed to focus on the tone of voice to determine trust.
Researchers say the finding have potential repercussions for people who speak with an accent when it comes to everything ranging from employment to education and the judicial process. (Daily Mail)