Date of Graduation

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Douglas A. Behrend

Committee Member

William H. Levine

Second Committee Member

Ana J. Bridges

Abstract

Monolingual children consistently display social preferences for individuals who speak their native language with a native accent compared to individuals who speak a foreign language or speak their native language with a foreign accent. Two explanations have been proposed for these language-based preferences. The first explanation is that language cues a child to in-group membership and children prefer to affiliate with individuals who are members of the same in-group. The second explanation is that children display preferences for their native language and accent because that is what they are most familiar with, and children prefer familiarity over the unknown. The present study attempted to tease these explanations apart by looking at a sample of bilingual children in addition to a sample of monolingual children living in a predominantly monolingual area. Children were shown pairs of images of adult faces paired with auditory stimuli that identified each face as a monolingual English speaker, a bilingual English/Spanish speaker, or a bilingual English/French speaker, and were asked to indicate with which person they would rather be friends. Overall, and contrary to predictions, children displayed a social preference for the bilingual individuals over the monolingual individuals. Potential reasons for these results are discussed.