The Effects of Accents on Conservation Attitudes Towards Native Species

Author: Tetther, Sian

Date: 2019

Publisher: University of Otago

Type: Thesis

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University of Otago


This thesis aims to answer the question of whether people are more likely to want to conserve a flagship national species after hearing a distressing message about that species from someone with an associated accent, as opposed to an accent discordant with such a culturally emblematic animal. I was particularly interested in the case of koalas, with koala conservation messages being communicated with Australian vs. “foreign” accents. Specifically, it was hypothesised that a campaign about koalas in an Australian accent, geared towards an Australian audience, would most likely to lead to a positive (i.e., conservationist) change in behaviour and attitudes towards this iconic Australian animal. To explore this prediction, the matched-guise technique was used to test the difference between six treatments, comparing two species (koala and panda) between three different accents (Chinese, British and Australian). The results somewhat supported the hypothesis, with participants’ attitudes and behaviours being most positively affected when a distressing message about the endangered status of koalas was delivered with an Australian accent. As part of the creative component of this Masters thesis in science communication, these empirical results were then used to help create a 25-minute call to action film to help save the koala (No Place to Call Home).

Subjects: accents, koalas, koala, communication, flagship species, science communication, Australia

Citation: ["Tetther, S. (2019). The Effects of Accents on Conservation Attitudes Towards Native Species (Thesis, Master of Science Communication). University of Otago. Retrieved from"]

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