Research Project

Accent the Positive

children sat on a park bench

Accent the Positive is a research project that explores how judgements about different regional accents develop in childhood 

The project explores how young children in early primary school tell the difference between accents used in different parts of the UK, and how they feel about those accents. It can be difficult for a child to express those thoughts directly so we use different methods to discover their implicit association with different accents. This includes studying their behaviour and looking directly at their brain responses.

Learn more about the research project

How does the project work?

If you choose to participate, you and your child would come to the University of Essex for one session (see below for more details).

In the study, your child will listen to sentences spoken in different accents, and play a game where they match pictures on the screen. While matching pictures, we will also be recording your child's brain activity using a method called EEG.

What is EEG?

EEG is a way to record the electrical activity of the brain, by using small recording sensors on the scalp. EEG recording is safe and has been used for many years in different kinds of research on children and adults.

To record brain activity, we fit a stretchy cap over your child's head (much like a swim cap), and snap the sensitive recording sensors to each of the holes in the cap. These sensors record the electrical activity your child's brain generates while they look at pictures and hear sounds.

The sensors do not generate any electrical activity, and your child will likely not notice them. In our experience, children are usually much more bothered about the hat! 

Where does the study take place?

The study takes place at the University of Essex campus, in the Department of Language and Linguistics.

The lab can be difficult to find, so we will meet you at one of our parking facilities and walk you in from there.

How long would the study take?

In total, plan for a one-hour visit to our lab. The study itself is only 15 minutes, but this will allow for ample time for answering questions, preparing the EEG cap, and of course, for picking out a prize! You will be with your child at all times. 

What are the benefits of participating?

Your child will get to play a fun matching game, and receive a small prize at the end (such as a small toy or colouring book).

You will also be compensated with an Amazon gift voucher for your time and parking expenses.

How to sign up or learn more about the project

If you are interested in participating, please send us an email at

Get in touch
Accent the positive  University of Essex