Latino Non-Native English Speakers May Be Seen As Less Credible

June 2014 file photo of an officer in Washington, D.C. PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP - Getty Images

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Immigrant Latinos who do not speak English well may be perceived as more nervous and less credible when they are being interrogated or interviewed, according to a Florida University study which appeared in the journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology. “Non-native speakers may be more anxious because they must use a language they aren’t all that comfortable with while doing a difficult task,”said the study's author, FIU psychologist Jacqueline R. Evans. She added non-native English speakers may also engage in behaviors like pausing or providing less detailed stories, which can appear suspicious. The study recommends that law enforcement and other officials receive training to learn what behaviors are natural and expected from non-native speakers, including a list of cues to identify what is truthful or not when questioning a low-proficiency speaker. The study also suggested the use of interpreters during interrogations could be a useful tool in these situations.