Linguistics Major Awarded Undergraduate Senior Honors Thesis grant

The Department of Linguistics congratulates Akiah J. Watts on receiving a Spring 2022 $2500 Undergraduate Senior Honors Thesis grant from the Kaminsky Family Fund Award. The grant is awarded by the Office of Undergraduate Advising & Research at Dartmouth. She is double-majoring in Linguistics and Psychology modified with Marketing and with a minor in Human-Centered Design. Her research advisor for the funded thesis project is Samantha Wray.

The funded research project is titled, "Interaction between AAVE and colorism in attitudinal judgments of African Americans."

Abstract: The purpose of this research is to see how skin tone and speech type in African Americans influence how they are perceived in social and professional contexts. My previous research suggests African American females are more likely to experience colorism in professional traits while African American males are more likely to experience colorism in social traits. In this expansion, participants will be asked to complete one of four verbal-guise surveys containing still images with attached audio. The clips being tested include the eight combinations of gender (male/female), speech type (African American Vernacular English/Standard American English), and skin tone (light/dark) for the African American pictured. Respondents will be asked to provide their attitudinal judgments of these clips across social and professional traits. Demographic information of the respondents such as their gender, race, and self-reported skin tone will be collected for later statistical analysis. This research has far-reaching societal implications that African Americans can experience unjust prejudice in their social and professional lives based on the tone of their skin and the style of English they use. In order to create a more inclusive society, it is important to draw attention to the existing biases that people hold to take strides towards reducing their influence.

Additionally, she has previously published related research in a journal:

Article Title: "Attitudinal Judgments of Dialect Traits and Colorism in African Americans"

Journal: Lifespans & Styles, Volume 7, no. 2

Date: 12-18-2021