"The Development of Language as a Social Category"
Beyond the literal content conveyed by language, the way someone speaks provides social meaning. In this talk I provide evidence that the tendency to see language as uniting, dividing, and marking human social groups begins remarkably early in life. Children’s attention to a speaker’s language and accent influences their social preferences, essentialist reasoning, and learning from others. In several cases, children’s attention to language trumps attention to race. Yet, while linguistic diversity may cause social divisions, it can also facilitate social understanding through perspective-taking. I conclude by making the case that studies of language and accent should be further integrated into mainstream social psychology.