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Linguistic Profiling:

Pilot Studies on Restaurants, Car Dealerships, and Apartment Rentals

Kedamai Fisseha, Nicolas Yannuzzi

Friday, January 12, 2007

We use a telephone audit study design to execute three pilot studies in which we test for
discrimination based on auditory cues. Using two auditors, one speaking a dialect called
African American Vernacular English and another speaking Standard American English, we
find that linguistic profiling is not a factor in obtaining a reservation at an elite New York
restaurant and has very modest effects on the starting prices quoted at luxury car
dealerships. However, we do find highly robust signs of racial discrimination based on
auditory cues in the Boston and Cambridge apartment rental markets. The auditor speaking
African American Vernacular English was half as likely to receive a return call from a
realtor and 1.67 times less likely to find available housing than the Standard American
English auditor. Our availability findings are statistically significant at the .05 alpha level
and yield a p-value of .039, suggesting that additional research needs to be done on
discrimination in the Boston housing market. We also aggregated callback rates, which were
even more significant,, with a p-value of .0067. We believe that the telephone audit design
has a significant place in social scientific experimental work on detecting discrimination.
Audit studies were developed by fair from their study of over 300 paired audits at
housing organizations in the late 1970’s new car dealers, showed, at a statistically
looking to uncover discrimination in significant level, that African Americans and
housing markets.i The technique makes it women were quoted higher final prices than
possible to gauge discrimination in the act white men. Based upon these findings, the
and for this reason has become a popular researchers attempted to identify the reasons
tool of researchers in the field. The audit that dealers would be inclined to
technique attempts to overcome the discriminate. Their conclusion cited the
significant problem of confounding that possible presence of non-economic tastes for
plagued earlier discrimination research by discrimination such as traditional animus or
striving to eliminate as much non-racial bigotry and the use of statistical inference
dissimilarity between subjects as possible.ii (by the car dealers) to generalize about a
The weak points of an audit study buyer's reservation price based on his/her
depend largely upon the type of contact that gender or race. The researchers note that car
is being utilized. One general problem is sellers were probably inclined to infer a
that by nature, audit studies are not double- buyer’s reservation price through
blind, so auditors may introduce preconceived (race and gender linked)
idiosyncratic qualities to the experiment that notions of consumer knowledgeability, the
favor a certain endpoint.iii Further, ability to search, and openness to prolonged
individual discrimination observed in an bargaining. vi
audit study may not serve well as an The astronomical time and monetary
indicator of market discrimination. These costs associated with running audit studies
problems are addressable, however, through that rely on personal contact has led social
careful research and the utilization of a wide scientists to pursue alternative audit study
body of audit data. Generally, however, designs. Furthermore, some social scientists
audit studies are characterized as quasi- have speculated that racial discrimination
experimental and give the researcher a good might take place before the applicant and the
deal of power in assessing the types of discriminator actually meet face to face.
treatment that different races face in the The discriminator may rely on auditory cues
market. iv from the applicant’s voice before visually
Since its first use in ’79, the audit observing race. Discriminating over the
methodology has been widely employed in phone might be a more efficient method of
an attempt to discern broadly the presence of screening applicants that could allow the
discrimination. In 1987, George Galster discriminator to avoid the discomfort of
collected fifty separate audit studies from rejecting the applicant in person.
different housing markets around the United To test this hypothesis, social
States. In his analysis of the data, Galster scientists have increasingly used the tactic of
used a conservative measure of racial phone auditing. However, in instances
discrimination and concluded that African where telephone audits are the contact
Americans faced about a 50% chance of method of choice, the study is weakened by
discrimination in the U.S. housing market.v the fact that auditors cannot convey their
A more recent study of car race over the telephone with absolute
dealerships also detected the presence of certainty. Further, since the audit method
discrimination in the market, this time necessarily stops a business transaction at an
against both African Americans and women. early stage, it cannot gauge the presence of
The data, collected by Ayres and Siegelman discrimination in later stages of the business

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deal. For example, a real estate agent who is of poor socioeconomic status. Using these
open to all phone calls, but discriminates dialects and also separating the students by
during negotiations would not be detected in gender, the researchers were able to design a
an audit study.vii Phone audits studies have telephone audit study to test the implications
been used mainly as a way to measure the of vocal cues on housing availability. After
impact of racial auditory cues on the early- collecting apartment listings from a wide
stage success of home buyers and apartment variety of sources and executing 477 calls,
seekers. they discovered a consistent gap in the
In his research on housing success rate of three types of auditors with
discrimination in the San Francisco bay respect to housing ability and the ability to
area, Professor John Baugh has shown that reach an agent. SAE auditors fared the best
the presence of an African American while Black Accent English (or AAVE)
Vernacular English (AAVE) or a Chicano auditors lagged behind, and Black English
English (ChE) dialect can affect the ability auditors faced the most discrimination.
of an auditor to confirm an appointment for Their results further advance the idea that
an apartment viewing.viii All of the phone telephone audit studies can be used as a
interviews were conducted by Baugh, who tenable means of discrimination research
was able to effectively “code-switch,” or and also pose further questions about the
shift between dialects. Baugh and his fellow significance of speech as a racial cue.x
researchers found that his trend was Although telephone audit designs
particularly prevalent in primarily White have shown consistent results uncovering
parts of San Francisco. In the Woodside the existence of linguistic profiling in the
region of San Franciso, the researchers show housing market, only a few studies have
that auditors speaking AAVE and ChE are deeply discussed the differences between the
less than half as likely as the auditors vocal constitution or speech patterns of
speaking SAE to confirm apartment viewing African Americans and Whites and how they
appointments. Results like these have been are manifested. If an untrained ear can not
an issue of contention for researchers and in identify race solely off of auditory cues in a
the court room where judges have reliable fashion, then linguistic profiling can
historically been unable to form a consensus not take place.
upon the complete viability of auditory cues Some phonetic or vocal
as a racial indicator.ix characteristics are purely genetic since they
In a 1999 University of Pennsylvania depend on the anatomical features of an
study the presence of significant individual. Scientific evidence has shown
discrimination in the Philadelphia housing that there is very little vocal variation
market was tested and confirmed. between African Americans and Whites.
Implemented as part of a sociology course, Anatomically, the African American and
the experiment utilized a multiracial group White vocal cords have been shown to be
of students that included native speakers of highly comparable.xi Vocal tract length and
different dialects. The dialects included vocal fold density, that control laryngeal
Standard American English as well as two aerodynamics and acoustic characteristics,
others, one the researches call Black have not been shown to be significantly
Accented English (which is identical in different between the two racial groups.xii In
nature to African American Vernacular addition, a study that took vocal samples
English), and another they deem Black from African American and White male and
English, which is often perceived as a sign female speakers, matched for age, height,

3
and weight, showed that the aerodynamic in three dialects: AAVE, SAE, and ChE.
and acoustic characteristics of sounds The samples were randomized for
emanating from the larynx were comparable presentation. Identification of Baugh
in most acoustic measurements including speaking in AAVE as African American was
fundamental frequency and sound pressure 84%, SAE as White was 86%, and ChE as
level.xiii Hispanic was 91%.xvi
However, recent research has also Racial identification was also
shown that individuals can discern race from considerably accurate when subjects were
very little vocal information. Fifty black presented a single word. In another trial, 50
and fifty white adult males were recorded to University of Delaware students were asked
produce a one-second acoustic sample to identify Baugh’s perceived race when he
extracted from the mid-portion of a said the word “Hello” in the three dialects.
sustained /a/ vowel. Untrained listeners Listeners were able to correctly identify
could determine the race of the speaker with between dialects 72% of the time.xvii
60% accuracy, and the identification of race Studies have also tested the impact
was independent of the listener’s race, sex, of AAVE on listeners’ perceptions of the
or listening experience.xiv These results, speaker. In a psychology study, African
however, were not very convincing Americans who were native speakers of
considering the small sample size and AAVE, SAE, or a code switching dialect
limited accuracy with which listeners could (those who were able to speak both dialects
identify a speaker’s race. and vary their usage within their speech)
The most convincing work on racial were recorded speaking about the same
identification by vocal cues has pointed to content. A test group of African American
the multiple dialects of American English student subjects were then asked to listen to
previously mentioned in this paper. In his a random sample of either AAVE, SAE, or
work on linguistic profiling, John Baugh the code switching dialect and assess how
notes that in comparison to SAE, AAVE much they wanted to get to know the model
lacks sonorants such as /r, l, and n/ as well and how much they would want to work
as missing /-s/ suffixes from plural, third with the model on a committee. Results
person singular, or possessive forms. Some showed that the SAE model was more
consonants, specifically /t and d/, might also likable than both the AAVE model and the
be dropped in AAVE.xv code switching Model. Thus, research has
Although studies have not shown that, within groups, listeners
convincingly shown that race can be unexpectedly may favor the SAE speech
determined by a short vowel sound alone, pattern over the code switching dialect.xviii
Baugh’s research has demonstrated that Although Baugh’s work in housing
differences in dialects can lead to accurate discrimination in the San Francisco Bay area
and reliable racial identifications with just a seemed convincing, we believed that there
single sentence and to a slightly lesser was a considerable limitation to his study.
degree with the utterance of a single word. In our view, Baugh, a native speaker of SAE
Baugh demonstrated this by and not AAVE or ChE, might be prone to
conducting a trial in which 421 Stanford exaggerate or stereotype his dialects of
undergraduates were asked to identify the AAVE and ChE. In addition, he called each
race and gender of Professor Baugh saying realtor three times in a different dialect with
“Hello, I’m calling to see about the no more than thirty minutes between each
apartment you have advertised in the paper,” call. We find it hard to believe that even

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with the use of pseudonyms and varying would find it more difficult to schedule a
phone numbers that the realtors could not test drive at a luxury car dealership and
discern that the callers were the same person whether he would face price discrimination
calling with different accents. We were over the phone. To test that our voices were
further inclined to perform our research representative of each dialect, we recorded
because we also knew that there were no each of our voices saying the sentence in our
published telephone audit studies that respective dialect and then presented it to
attempted to search for housing student subjects of various races who
discrimination in the Boston area. listened to the recording and stated their
With a clear background from the opinion of the race of the speaker.
literature, we decided to design a telephone
audit study procedure to test for housing I. Method
discrimination in several parts of Boston as
well as Cambridge, our very own 02138. To A. Racial Identification of Voice
accommodate for the problems we found in
previous work, we used two different The AAVE auditor, Fisseha, and the
auditors and matched them with identical SAE auditor, Yannuzzi, were recorded
profiles and scripts, except for pronunciation saying the same sentence, “Hello, I’m
and accent. With the limitation of only calling to ask about the apartment listing
having two auditors, however, we could not you had on BostonApartments.com.” The
obtain a critically large sample size. AAVE auditor stressed certain
Therefore, we set out to perform pilot pronunciations such as “ask” as “axe.”
studies for proof of concept in several Fisseha obtained a group of 30 random
different areas where linguistic profiling Harvard students to listen to the SAE
might exist. Kedamai Fisseha, able to code- recording of Yannuzzi and asked each
switch between SAE and AAVE, took on the listener to decide if the speaker was White,
persona of the AAVE auditor. Nico African American, Hispanic, or Asian.
Yannuzzi, in contrast, took on the persona of There were no listeners in the sample that
the SAE auditor. Throughout the entire had met the SAE auditor. Yannuzzi obtained
process, Fisseha never spoke in ebonics, a a separate group of 30 random Harvard
signal of poor socioeconomic status, but students to listen to the AAVE recording of
instead adhered to a highly similar script to Fisseha and to note if they believed that the
the SAE auditor with changes only in voice was representative of a White, African
pronunciation of certain words. In this American, Hispanic, or Asian speaker.
manner, we could test for racial None of the listeners in the sample had met
discrimination and not discrimination based Fisseha.
upon socioeconomic status.
We believed that the simplicity of B. Restaurants
our study design also lent itself to testing for
discrimination in other areas where The Zagat Online Survey was used
linguistic profiling could take place besides to obtain the audit sample. Restaurants in
the housing market. We decided to see if an the New York City area were sorted in terms
auditor speaking in AAVE would have more of price. The names, cuisine types, and
trouble getting a reservation at an elite New average price of the one hundred most
York City restaurant than an SAE auditor. expensive New York City restaurants were
Next, we wanted to see if an AAVE auditor then gathered. Restaurants included twenty

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different cuisine types with the majority as C. Luxury Car Dealerships
American, French, or Italian. Prices ranged
from $57 to $112 dollars per plate with an The names and zip codes of forty car
average of $70. dealerships from Alabama, Florida,
Two profiles were constructed, one Massachusetts, and New York were gathered
for Standard American English and one for using the Yellow Pages Online. Car
African American Vernacular English. The dealerships were only selected if the name
two auditors used racially neutral of a specific luxury car was embedded in the
pseudonyms, John Williams and Michael name of the dealership-for instance: “John
Smith. Both auditors said the same sentence Crump Hummer.” Luxury car dealerships
but in different dialects. Yannuzzi spoke in used in the audit included Maserati, Porsche,
Standard American English, while Fisseha, Hummer, Lexus, Cadillac, Audi, Jaguar,
capable of Code-Switching, spoke in African Land Rover, BMW, Bentley, or Infiniti.
American Vernacular English, stressing From the zip code of each dealership,
certain vowel sounds and pronunciations information on the average income and
(see Appendix A for script). population percentage White and African
The Microsoft Excel random number American from each area was collected
generator was used to randomize the order using city-data.com, a website that pools
of the restaurants called by each auditor and census data.
to vary which auditor called first. Auditors Two profiles were constructed, one
called each restaurant on Saturday evening for Standard American English and one for
and asked for a 7:30 reservation for four African American Vernacular English.
people on Sunday. If the reservation was Auditors used racially neutral pseudonyms,
accepted, the appointment was booked and a John Williams and Michael Smith. The
random contact number was left. If the Microsoft Excel random number generator
reservation was denied, the auditor asked for was then used to randomize the order of the
an alternative time on Sunday evening. If an dealerships called by each auditor and to
alternative time on Sunday was available, vary which auditor called first. The time of
the appointment was booked and a random day for which a test drive was requested
contact number was left. If an alternative (either the next morning or afternoon) was
time on Sunday evening was unavailable, also randomized. Calls were made Monday
the auditor terminated the call. Notes were afternoon. Both auditors started each call by
also taken if the host or hostess mentioned asking for a sales person for a pre-agreed
price or dress code during the exchange. upon type of car make, model, and year. Car
For restaurants that were not open on types were tailored to the name of the
Sunday, the same procedure was done dealership. When a sales person was
except the reservation was asked for 7:30 for located, auditors asked to schedule a test
four people on Monday. If a restaurant took drive for the following day using similar
reservations through a recording or was not scripts except for pronunciation of certain
open on either Sunday or Monday, it was not words. Identical profiles for each auditor
audited. In total 77 data points were were also constructed in the advent that a
collected. salesperson asked more questions (see
Appendix B for script, pronunciation, and
profiles). Yannuzzi spoke in Standard
American English, while Fisseha spoke in
African American Vernacular English,

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stressing certain vowel sounds and and to vary which auditor called first. Calls
pronunciations. were made Tuesday and Wednesday
Auditors first took note of whether a throughout the course of the day and
test drive could be scheduled. If the test evening. Both auditors called in reference to
drive was scheduled, each auditor then a particular property and described it to the
asked for the lowest starting price on the realtor and called only once. The Standard
make, model, and year of the car being test American English auditor and the African
driven. A price was only requested outright; American Vernacular English auditor
bargaining did not take place. Finally, each accomplished this using a similar script but
auditor also took note of any questions the with different pronunciations. Yannuzzi
salesperson asked, specifically what car the again spoke as the Standard American
auditor was currently driving or the credit English auditor, while Fisseha spoke in
situation of the auditor. Auditors did not African American Vernacular English,
release information on their profile unless stressing certain vowel sounds and
asked directly. If the dealership did not pronunciations in the dialect (see Appendix
carry the pre-agreed upon model and year, C for the profiles and scripts of each
the call was terminated, and the dealership auditor). If an agent was available the
was excluded from the analysis. If a auditor asked if the specific property was
dealership was unreachable during the still available. The agent was then told that
calling window, the dealership was that the auditor would call them next week
discarded from the analysis. When a single to discuss apartment visits. If an agent did
dealership listed multiple phone numbers not answer, a message was left describing
and names (with different car types), it was the property and leaving a name and number
audited only once. In total, 18 dealerships for call back. The amount of call backs
were analyzed. were then recorded for each auditor
throughout the course of the next day. A call
D. Apartments from an agent was only recorded as a call
back if it was received by 10pm the evening
Apartment rental listings for the after the message was left. If an auditor was
Boston and Cambridge area were gathered not called back after leaving a message with
using various apartment websites such as a realtor, the apartment was scored as
BostonApartments.com. The majority of the “unavailable.” If a realtor or landlord had
listings were from Back Bay, Beacon Hill, multiple listings, he/she was called only
the North End, and Cambridge. If a realtor once and the other numbers were dropped
or landlord was representing multiple from the analysis.
rentals, he/she was only called in reference
to one of them. A total of 70 different II. Results
realtors and landlords were audited.
Two profiles were constructed, one A. Racial Identification of Voice
for Standard American English and one for
African American Vernacular English. In a total of 30 trials, the AAVE
Auditors used racially neutral pseudonyms, auditor was identified by listeners as African
John Williams and Michael Smith. The American 25 times (83%), as White 4 times
Microsoft Excel random number generator (13%), and as Asian once (4%). The SAE
was used to randomize the order of the auditor was identified as White 25 times
realtors called by each auditor independently

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(83%), as African American 3 times (10%), current credit situation (2/19) and his current
and as ambiguous 2 times (7%). car (4/19), while the SAE auditor was not
asked these questions (See Table III).
B. Restaurants Moreover, in 11/19 audits, the AAVE auditor
was quoted a higher starting price than the
In 77 total observations of New York SAE auditor. In these 11 instances, on
City restaurants, we did not detect the average, the AAVE auditor was quoted a
slightest amount of linguistic discrimination starting price that was nearly $7K higher
in terms of reservation acceptance and than the SAE auditor. In only 2/19 audits,
general treatment during the exchange. The the AAVE auditor was quoted a lower price.
auditor speaking in AAVE was accepted at Throughout the 19 audits, the AAVE auditor
the primary slot in 76.6% of the was on average quoted a price
observations compared with 72.7% for the approximately $3,500 higher than the SAE
SAE auditor. If denied the primary slot, the auditor.
AAVE auditor was granted an alternative
time in 22.1% of the observations in D. Apartments
comparison to 24.7% for the SAE auditor
(See Table II). Thus there were no In 70 total observations of
significant differences between the two apartments in Boston and Cambridge the
auditors in terms of obtaining a reservation. auditor speaking in AAVE had a 31%
We also recorded whether dress code or the apartment availability rate while the SAE
price of the restaurant was mentioned by the auditor had a 50% apartment availability
host or hostess during the process. Both the rate (See Table IV). Callback rates showed a
AAVE and the SAE auditor received the similar trend. The AAVE auditor had a 23%
same amount of warnings about the dress callback rate while the SAE auditor had a
code (11.7%) and the same amount of 50% callback rate (See Table V). The
mentions of the price (1.3%). Data from the auditors made sure to record any pricing
restaurant audit can be found in Table I. information that was obtained as well as any
Since the sample was restricted to New York additional information about other available
City restaurants, we decided to test for apartments. With the exception of one
discrimination in 5-10 restaurants located in instance where the AAVE auditor was
Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina quoted a price that was $2,000 higher for the
(Data not shown). These audits also did not same apartment by the same agent that
result in discrimination, displaying identical spoke to the SAE auditor, the pricing
results for the AAVE and the SAE auditors. information was quite neutral. The auditors
also took notes to record nuanced
C. Luxury Car Dealerships information about their conversations, and
the AAVE auditor seemed, on average, to
Little can be inferred from the small experience inquiries into employment and
number of observations in the test drive current living conditions at a rate only
audit (18 in total). However, we did find slightly exceeding the SAE auditor.
that during the trial, neither the AAVE nor
the SAE auditor was denied a test drive III. Discussion
appointment. While this result was highly
indicative of equal treatment, we also found Thus, our three pilot studies yielded
that the AAVE auditor was asked about his varying results. In our first experiment, we

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were unable to detect linguistic receive a call back from a message left for
discrimination in the process of obtaining a an agent than the AAVE auditor.
restaurant reservation. Experiences for both Furthermore, when an agent was finally
auditors in terms of reservation availability reached, the SAE auditor was told that the
and general commentary about price and particular apartment was available 1.67
dress code were virtually identical. This times more often than the AAVE auditor.
result could be due to two reasons. The Statistical analysis yielded a Chi-squared
hosts and hostesses in our sample may value of 4.261 with 1 degree of freedom and
simply lack racial animus or have no reason gave us a two-tailed p-value equaling
to engage in race-based statistical 0.0390. This indicates that there, almost
discrimination. On the other hand, the noisy surely, is a relationship between the row
and distracting environment in a restaurant variable, race, and the column variable,
may make racial identification very difficult availability. Our callback data was even
for the listener. more significant yielding a chi-squared
In our second pilot study, we tested value of 7.342 with 1 degree of freedom.
for the presence of linguistic profiling in The resulting two-tailed p-value equals
luxury car dealerships. In the small sample, 0.0067. This indicates again the undeniable
the AAVE and SAE auditors were able to presence of race as a factor in apartment
schedule a test drive at every dealership search outcomes and further indicates that
contacted. Dealerships showed no bias non-response is a discriminatory strategy
when afforded the chance to get a potential used quite frequently by real estate agents.
buyer into the showroom. In our second While our results show strong signs
endpoint, dealer starting price, we saw small of discrimination, we remain cautious about
but consistent results which favored the SAE identifying the reason for these actions. We
auditor. Although the sample size is too suspect that the agents had stereotypes about
small to generate a causal interpretation, we African American buyers’ financing ability
speculate that these price differentials were or that they were motivated by racial
signs of either taste based discrimination, as animus. As with all audit studies, however,
a result of racial animus, or statistical it is easier to document the existence of
discrimination, relying on the fact that the discrimination than the mechanisms behind
majority of African American buyers have it.
less consumer information and higher search There were several weaknesses to
costs. After using a histogram to check the the study. First, although we believed that
approximate normality of the price data we phone auditing would allow us to obtain a
ran a t-test of significance for this data (this high number of observations in a short
technically has an ‘n’ sample size that is amount of time, the process was very time
large enough to justify doing so) and found a consuming. Over four days, calling for 5
p-value of .0381. This is significant at the hours a day, we were only able to
alpha = .05 level. We still remain highly accumulate 77, 18, 70 data points in the
cautious about the small sample size in this restaurant, luxury car dealership, and
part of our study, however. apartment rental studies, respectively.
Our most robust results were found Moreover, additional time was spent seeking
in our telephone audit of Boston realtors. and coding the audit samples. While the
Here we found strong and statistically number of data points we were able to
significant signs of linguistic profiling. The collect was sufficient for a pilot study, a
SAE auditor was 2 times more likely to team of at least ten auditors would be

9
needed to execute a study that could produce native dialects. By using native speakers of
sufficient data to determine definitively each dialect and by using multiple auditors
whether linguistic profiling exists in these we were able to avoid these problems.
arenas and whether the relationship is However, with more than one auditor, we
causal, especially on a market level. also introduced a problem not present in
The small number of observations Baugh’s design, cross-speaker variation.
also limited the geographic region which we This again could be remedied by using a
could span. In the restaurant study, we only larger cast of auditors to wash out any
targeted New York City establishments. In potentially large differences between
the housing study, all of our observations speakers.
came from the Boston area, and in the test We also remain cautious about the
drive study, we were only able to reach out thin line between racial and socioeconomic
to dealerships in the Massachusetts and New vocal cues. AAVE may send mixed signals
York area as well as several from Alabama of both race and socioeconomic status to
and Florida. The narrow focus of our study realtors, and we realize that with this design
brings up external validity questions. it is impossible to completely isolate race as
Another limitation of our design and a variable.
telephone auditing in general is, again, that Finally, the individual firm
it cannot detect discrimination occurring in discrimination we witnessed may not
later interactions. For instance, telephone necessarily imply market discrimination
auditing has no way of detecting since the firms we contacted may not be the
discrimination in terms of getting a good ones that African Americans seek when
table, service, or in waiting time upon searching for an apartment rental in the
arrival at a restaurant. Similarly, most if not Boston area. We do believe however, that
all of the bargaining for a new car occurs most renters, independent of their race,
after the buyer has arrived to the dealership, begin their apartment rental search on the
not over the phone. Finally, in the case of phone, although renters might also utilize
apartments, much of the discrimination other modes of correspondence, such as
might take place after meeting with the email, in which linguistic profiling could not
landlord or realtor. Telephone auditing has occur.
no way to detect discrimination occurring at
these points. IV. Conclusion
However, our experiment design did
allow us to improve upon earlier studies and We believe that telephone auditing
directly avoid some of the problems present has a place in social scientific studies on
in the Baugh design. In his test for linguistic discrimination, especially with regard to the
profiling, Baugh took on all three dialects, housing market. Telephone audits can suffer
AAVE, SAE, and ChE, and called the same some of the same problems that audits done
agent three times with no more than thirty in person can. Trials are not double blind,
minutes between calls. This design could be so sub-consciously auditors may act in a
vulnerable since it might be possible for the certain way to achieve a specific endpoint.
agent to detect that the three simultaneous However, for the most part, we believe that
calls were from the same person. Moreover, this can be remedied by calling housing
since Baugh is not a native speaker of two of agencies on off hours, leaving standard
the three dialects, he might be prone to messages, and recording call back rates. In
stereotyping or exaggeration of his non- this manner, telephone audits provide a

10
much less expensive and quicker method of
testing for housing discrimination.
Our evidence suggests that future
research on linguistic profiling should
remain in the housing realm since our results
in restaurant reservations showed no signs of
discrimination and our findings in car
dealerships were modest at best. Our robust
findings in the Boston housing market
suggest that additional research should be
done to further document this trend, the
regions in which it is most prevalent, and the
possible reasons behind it. Another area that
might be interesting to survey with a
telephone audit is job vacancies that search
for applicants through classified
advertisements. Before additional studies
are begun, however, more research must
also be done on racial recognition through
auditory cues since previous studies have
not had large enough samples.

11
i
Yinger, J. “Measuring Racial Discrimination with Fair Housing Audits: Caught in the Act.” American Economic Review
76 (1986): 881-893.
ii
Yinger, J. “Measuring Racial Discrimination with Fair Housing Audits: Caught in the Act.” American Economic Review
76 (1986): 881-893.
iii
Ayres, Ian, Siegelman, Peter. “Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car.” The American Economic
Review 85 (1995): 304-321.
iv
Massey, Douglas S., Lundy, Garvey. “Use of Black English and Racial Discrimination in Urban Housing Markets: New
Methods and Findings.” (Population Studies Center University of Pennsylvania, 1998).
v
Galster, George C. “Racial Discrimination in Housing Markets During the 1980s: A Review of the Audit Evidence.”
Journal of Planning Education and Research 9 (1990): 165-175.
vi
Ayres, Ian, Siegelman, Peter.
vii
“Accents Speak Louder Than Words: National Origin Discrimination in Rental Housing in the North Bay Based on Voice
Identification.” (Fair Housuing of Marin, 2005).
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