Yesterday, I wondered what it would whether and how my academic presence would be different if I had a delectable British accent rather the grating overnasalized voice that God and a rural Iowa upbringing gave me. The proffered hypothesis is that I would have way more academojo if I had the British accent. A couple people pointed out afterward that it is hard to take seriously the counterfactual of everything about me being the "same" except for my voice. Especially, since, I can do a fair British accent now, but, if I started using it as my default voice now, it would really come across the same as if I was perceived as coming by it legitimately, which, for the purposes of the exercise, was really what I was speculating about.
A more plausible scenario, perhaps, would be to imagine an academic with a British accent coming to the United States, and either maintaining their British accent or ending up sounding like an American. I've known people who have come to America after spending their linguistically formative years in Britain and still ended up sounding American after enough years. For that matter, for people who come from parts of the world for which the accent is not advantageous, there are not uncommonly efforts to suppress the accent, which I would think would be easier for someone from Britain than, say, the Far East.
So, the experimental design: We get an audio sample of someone giving an intellectual talk with a (genuine) British accent. Then, we have yours truly record the same talk in my own accent, mimicking the intonation and rhetorical flourishes as closely as possible otherwise (and I'm a good mimic, so long as no singing is involved). We get a pool of American-academia-inclined subjects and randomly assign them to listen to one or the other recording, and have them rate things like the apparent intelligence of the speaker and the merits of what they are saying. Presto, we can estimate the causal effect, should one exist, of having a British versus Freesish accent.
BTW, as an entirely unrelated matter to this post: does anyone happen to have a recording of the most recent ASA presidential address?