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A matched guise test is done primarily to research language attitudes. Simply put a person hears a text read in two different languages by the same person. The subject is supposed to think they are two different people, hence 'guise'. The subject then answers a series of questions that will reveal (hopefully) the attitudes he has towards speakers of the languages tested. The test is 'matched' in that the speaker is the same person and he is reading the same text.

Matched Guise Tests typically have 3 steps to them:

Step 1 Creation of the test
Step 2 Implementing the test
Step 3 Analyzing the results

This page will detail procedures for each of the steps.

Creation of the test

A matched guise test is created by finding a person who speaks the languages you are studying. The test usually looks at 2 languages, such as English and Spanish in the USA. To create a test for this scenario, you would find someone fluent in English and Spanish.

Once you have this person, you record him reading the same text in both languages.

Apart from this you develop a questionnaire that your subjects will take. You want the answers to these questions to reveal the attitudes the subject has in regards to speakers of the languages tested. This will be culturally informed. In some contexts asking about the height of the speaker will reveal perceived prestige, or lack of it. In some contexts asking about the speakers income, or level of education will be essential, while in others the question will not even make sense to the subject. Look at other parts of this wiki for help on developing questionnaires and preforming interviews.

Implementing the test

Assuming you have done the work of defining your population and applied the appropriate sampling techniques, you give the test to each subject. You take each subject and randomly play for him one of the readings. Then ask him the prepared questions, or fill out a questionnaire you have designed, as the situation calls for. Record the answers in whatever form seems most appropriate. Of course do as little as possible to affect the subject as he answers the questions.

Repeat this process for all subjects.

Analyzing the results

Refer to other sections of this wiki for information on statistical analysis.

Be sure to remember what it is you have discovered with this test, and what you have not discovered. You know (or do you) what a sample of people think about a recording. This in itself is not language attitudes. You are taking the answers and extrapolating language attitudes from it. So, be careful about how strongly you state your findings and what you assume from your data. This is of course true for all the tests we do.


There have been numerous variations to this test. It has been used to find dialect attitudes (see Shuy and Fasold 1973). Researchers have used different speakers for their recordings. This takes the 'matched' aspect out of the test and introduces other variables. However, it does make each recording more natural.

Further Reading

Shuy, Roger W. and Ralph W. Fasold eds. 1973. Language Attitudes: Current Trends and Prospects. Georgetown University Press: Washington D.C.