The persuasiveness of British accents in enhancing parental self-efficacy to promote children’s oral health


  • Z. Adams
  • J. Cheshire
  • E. Levon
  • C. Pine
  • P. Adair
  • G. Burnside


This is an exploratory investigation of how language attitude research can inform the development of interventions to improve children’s oral health. This work builds on a clinical trial with over 2,000 families across the UK. The trial uses an intervention of eight children’s storybooks containing embedded behaviour change techniques. These techniques aim to improve parental self-efficacy to deliver effective tooth brushing and control sugar consumption for their child, which was the most significant variable predicting dental caries in young children in our previous research. The storybooks are being adapted into eight animated cartoons, providing an opportunity to examine the relationship between persuasion and accent. Phase one, in progress, is an experiment with 50 parents per area, evaluating the effect of six British accents on implicit attitudes, using a reaction time test, and explicit attitudes via a matched-guise test. Results will be analysed using a mixed-model regression. Phase two is a randomised controlled trial which tests these results, using the most and least persuasive accents identified in phase one as voice-overs for the cartoons. 165 parents per area will watch one cartoon weekly with their children for eight weeks. Parents will complete standard measures of self-efficacy and behaviour change pre-/post-trial. Sociolinguistic research predicts that the parent’s own accent or Received Pronunciation will be the most persuasive which, in turn, is expected to change parental self-efficacy. This study has the potential to advance our understanding of the impact of accent on self-efficacy, bridging a gap between Sociolinguistics, Health Psychology and Public Health.





Poster presentations