Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsWhen we think about measuring language attitudes, we can think of these attitudes as being implicit or explicit. Put simply, implicit attitudes are a person’s instinctive, immediate reaction to seeing or hearing language. These attitudes come from that person’s own life experiences, and the stereotypes and cognitive connections associated with those experiences. For example, if someone had a negative experience with a speaker of a particular accent, they might form a stereotype about all speakers of that accent - perhaps that all people with that accent are rude or annoying. Because these views are so ingrained in people’s minds, it can be difficult to explore implicit attitudes about language in a direct way - such as surveys or interviews.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsInstead, we can try using more indirect approaches. An example of one such approach, is the Implicit Association Test often used in psychological research. This is where people are asked to pair a particular group to a positive or negative trait - for example, through categorising speakers of Glaswegian English as being polite or impolite. Later on the course, we’ll discuss how this test has been adapted for sociolinguistic research. As well as these implicit attitudes, people also have what we call explicit attitudes toward language. These attitudes are those which someone is more aware of having. In other words, these are the attitudes that people have about language that are consciously-held. These attitudes are comparatively easier to collect in sociolinguistic research.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 secondsThis is because the methods that we can use to tap into these more overt views are fairly straightforward. There are plenty of ways to conduct a questionnaire or poll where people can report what they think about a particular accent. It’s important to note that both implicit and explicit attitudes about language can be held at the same time as one another. So people can have attitudes about an accent that they are conscious of and able to express - as well as attitudes which are more ingrained. As we’ll see in Week 3, there are theories which use this idea of explicit and implicit attitudes to explain how we construct and maintain our position in social groups.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 secondsFor the time being, we’ll take a look at some of the methods which have been used to examine both implicit and explicit attitudes.

Implicit vs. explicit attitudes

In this video, Dr Sam Hellmuth explains the differences between explicit and implicit attitudes, and the problems faced when trying to measure them.

Errata: Around 51 seconds into the video, the correct term is ‘Implicit Association Test’ rather than ‘Indirect’

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An Introduction to Sociolinguistics: Accents, Attitudes and Identity

University of York

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