People start talking like each other when they carry out tasks together, study ... trends now

People start talking like each other when they carry out tasks together, study ... trends now
People start talking like each other when they carry out tasks together, study ... trends now

People start talking like each other when they carry out tasks together, study ... trends now

When you spend lots of time with a friend, do you find your accent starts to change? 

If so, you're not alone, as a new study has revealed that people start talking like each other when they carry out tasks together.

Researchers from universities in Pennsylvania carried out a study to investigate 'phonetic convergence' - a phenomenon that occurs when people start imitating the pronunciation of vowel sounds when speaking to someone with a different accent.

Their findings suggest that the more engaging a task is, the higher the rate of phonetic convergence.  

When you spend lots of time with a friend, do you find your accent starts to change? If so, you're not alone, as a new study has revealed that people start talking like each other when they carry out tasks together (stock image)

When you spend lots of time with a friend, do you find your accent starts to change? If so, you're not alone, as a new study has revealed that people start talking like each other when they carry out tasks together (stock image)

What is phonetic convergence? 

Phonetic convergence is the process when people's accents become more similar as they are conversing with one another.

The talker's sex, race and role in the chat can have an affect on how much or how little their voice changes.

Changes can include the vowel length, Voice Onset Time (VOT) and frequencies when someone speaks.

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The study was carried out in a joint-research project between Pennsylvania State University, Villanova University and University of Pennsylvania. 

In the study, participants worked together in a series of word-matching puzzles while completing either a 'highly engaging task' - navigating a virtual world in the computer game Minecraft - or a less engaging task - clicking words from a list. 

Participants took on two roles, the director and the marcher, with the director controlling the conversation. 

The director would move words, asking the matcher where they wanted them to go. 

They were given 30 words to use while scientists measured the phonetic features of the words said by each participant.

This included the frequencies, vowel length and Voice Onset Time (VOP), which is the time period between the release of a plosive and the beginning of vocal vibrations.

The study, titled 'The influence of task engagement on phonetic convergence', published on ScienceDirect, found that parts of the participants' accents such as the frequency and vowel length did change, converging to sound more like one another.

However, this was only heard during the highly engaging activity. 

How frequently people picked up another person's accent also relied on how engaged they were with the task at hand.

The more someone interacted in the conversation, the more affected their voice became.

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