Why do Hollywood villains always have posh English accents? Science has the answer...
Posh English accents are perceived to be sinister because they imply a higher level of intellect, making evil scheming seem more believable, an expert has claimed.
New York-based linguist Chi Luu claims to have come up with a formula to explain why Received Pronunciation (RP) is the ideal villainous accent.
Writing for the Jstor website, Luu said: “Speakers of the prestige Received Pronunciation (RP) accent (otherwise known as the Queen’s English or BBC English) are regularly evaluated by non-RP speakers as more educated, intelligent, competent, physically attractive, and generally of a higher socioeconomic class.
“At the same time, in terms of social attractiveness, those same posh RP speakers are consistently rated less trustworthy, kind, sincere, and friendly than speakers of non-RP accents. Sounds like a good start for a villain.”
Luu said regional British accents tended to be perceived as more trustworthy and come with less baggage in terms of preconceptions.
“It turns out many of us believe, often without realizing it, we can predict social and personal traits about a person, simply by the accent they use. We may be wrong, but we do it anyway.”