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How trustworthy is the Kent accent (if we have one, that is)?

Which is the best accent to have when going job-hunting?

If a stranger were to hear you speak with a Kent accent (if such a thing exists) would they think that you are trustworthy? The answer, you might be glad to know, is probably “yes”. But, we need to add something of a caveat. In a survey, the second most trustworthy British accent was found to come from London and the south-east. The accent is referred to as Received Standard or The Queen’s English and is mostly found in Hertfordshire, London and Kent.

The UK is known for its rich array of regional accents and dialects. But does the way someone sounds have any correlation with our snap judgments towards them in the workplace and social settings? was keen to uncover the British public’s opinions.

After asking 2,221 people, including employers, to listen to the 15 British accents and asking who they would trust and favour in job interviews, can reveal which area of the UK has the most trustworthy sounding accent. discovered that, ‘appen as like, the Brits’ favourite and most trustworthy sounding accent is from Yorkshire, earning 60% of the vote. The, perhaps quintessentially, ‘northern English’ accent is often perceived as one of the most pleasing to the ear, perfect for outbound business calls. Participants often described the accent as ‘intelligent’ and ‘calming.’ 

As described above, in second place came Received Pronunciation, with 57% of the vote.

The Edinburgh accent comes in at third place with 52% of the vote. This accent differs greatly from the Glaswegian and is generally considered to be a softer with a much rounder sound. Call-centres are popular there. Participants said they would hire someone with the Edinburgh accent, with many participants describing this accent as ‘soothing’ and ‘friendly’; features that hiring managers and interviewers value. 

Following as the fourth, fifth and sixth most trustworthy are the Welsh, Newcastle (Geordie) and Bolton (Boltonian) where they received 48%, 40% and 38% of the votes respectively. 

Brits vote this is the most trustworthy sounding accent 
Received Pronunciation (Kent, London and Hertfordshire)57
Newcastle (Geordie)40
Bolton (Boltonian)38
Northern Irish30
West Country – Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Gloucester27
Manchester (Mancunian)25
East Anglian – Norfolk, Suffolk10
Liverpool (Scouse)8
Birmingham (Brummie)4

Which UK accent is the least trustworthy?

With the UK being a hotbed for such a variety of accents, it’s no surprise that some are deemed untrustworthy.  Unfortunately, even the Peaky Blinders association couldn’t bump Brummies up. They came in last place with only 4% of people deeming their accent as trustworthy. The Birmingham accent is often described as ‘slow’ and ‘monotone’; studies have shown that speaking slowly could mean that people are perceived as ‘slow-witted’ and fast talkers are considered more ‘persuasive’. During interviews, employers are often looking for the persuasive, problem-solving type.

Barely escaping last place were the Scousers from Liverpool, with only 8% of the vote. As one of the most distinctive accents within the UK, participants often described them as sounding ‘unintelligent’ and ‘intimidating’. In spite of this, it is said that the employers often see a distinctive accent as ‘memorable’ and ‘distinguishing’.

Also thought of as untrustworthy is the East Anglian accent, covering areas such as Norfolk and Suffolk – it only received 10% of the vote.  

Methodology: OnBuy gave 2,221 people (general public, as well as employers) voice recordings of each of the listed accents. OnBuy then asked participants to vote for which ones they found the most trustworthy – with the question: “Which out of all of the following accents do you believe to be the most trustworthy? (Which do you consider most friendly and least intimidating?)” After each recording was played; members were then asked to write down three adjectives describing the accent they had just heard. 

David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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