EastEnders accents are judged as being ‘less intelligent and trustworthy’, according to new study


The Queen THICK! EastEnders accents are judged as being ‘less intelligent and trustworthy’, according to new study

  • Research at the University of Essex found that working class accents are judged as less intelligent, friendly or trustworthy after playing clips to 200 people 
  • Accents including those from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, parts of London and Essex were played, all saying the same sentence
  • Ethnic minorities were judged less intelligent than white people based on accent

Essex and London accents linked with popular programmes such as EastEnders and TOWIE are often judged as being less intelligent and trustworthy, according to a new study. 

Researchers in the University of Essex found that working class accents are judged as less intelligent, friendly or trustworthy by playing nearly 200 young people from the south east 10 second clips of others from the region. 

East end accents are judged as being less intelligent and trustworthy according to research

East end accents are judged as being less intelligent and trustworthy according to research

Accents including those from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, parts of London and Essex were played, all saying the same sentence. 

One clip featured Dr Amanda Cole, a postdoctoral research fellow at the university’s Department of Language and Linguistics. 

Despite her credentials and being the person behind the whole project, most of those who listened to her speak felt she was less intelligent than the other voices they heard. 

Working class accents were also judged to be less intelligent, friendly and trustworthy than middle class people, and people from ethnic minorities were judged less intelligent than white people based on their accent, according to the study. 

Working class accents were also judged to be less intelligent, friendly and trustworthy than middle class people according to the study by the University of Essex

Working class accents were also judged to be less intelligent, friendly and trustworthy than middle class people according to the study by the University of Essex 

The east end and Essex accents are most commonly linked with shows such as EastEnders

The east end and Essex accents are most commonly linked with shows such as EastEnders

‘When we hear someone talk we very quickly make judgements about them and group them into categories,’ Dr Cole told the BBC. 

‘There was this self-bias effect, in which working class people judged other working class people to be less intelligent.

‘The same self-bias effect was found for those from an ethnic minority background; they also judged other people from an ethnic minority background as less intelligent than white speakers.

‘The self-bias effect shows just how pervasive and entrenched accent prejudice is.

Gemma Collins (pictured) best known for her work on TOWIE  has the east end accent

Gemma Collins (pictured) best known for her work on TOWIE  has the east end accent 

‘We live in a vicious cycle in which the most privileged speak with the most esteemed accent – and so are judged as the most competent and intelligent which helps them maintain their privilege.

‘This way of thinking is so pervasive that it goes completely unchallenged.’ 

In 2019, the Essex accent was voted the sexist in the UK, with Birmingham coming bottom of the charts as the least sexy dialect in the British Isles. 

A poll in 2020 found that the taste for British dialects had shifted again, with the Yorkshire accent coming out on top.   

Despite her research, Dr Cole wants to ensure that the diversity of accents remains in the UK. 

‘We are all diverse and we need diversity in accents’, she said. ‘No-one should feel that they have to forsake their accent to get along better in life’.



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