Lindsay Lohan Briefly Had a European Accent Caused by a Psychological Phenomenon

Lindsay Lohan has experienced plenty of ups and downs during her dramatic career. Despite still being a relatively young star, the now-34-year-old saw her career rise to meteoric proportions as a child star and crash with equal fanfare. Rumors of an attempted comeback have prompted fans to look back on some of Lohan’s best and worst moments. 

This trip down memory lane has dug up plenty of incidents worthy of skepticism and criticism, but at least one incident that had fans looking critically at Lohan has an explanation. When she bizarrely took on a European accent in an interview, it was likely a psychological phenomenon rather than intentional. 

Lindsay Lohan saw success as a child star 

Actress Lindsay Lohan blow-dries her hair on 'Haircut Night in America,' hosted by Jerry O'Connell and Rebecca Romijn, on the CBS Television Network. Image is a screengrab.
Lindsay Lohan | CBS via Getty Images

There was a time when Lindsay Lohan’s star seemed on a perpetual rise. Born in 1986, she wasn’t even 10 when she began making TV appearances, including guest spots on Sesame Street and Another World.

But it was her 1998 appearance in Disney’s The Parent Trap — in which she played both leading roles — that really launched her into stardom. 

Lohan also starred in the TV movie Get a Clue in 2002 and Freaky Fridayalongside Jamie Lee Curtis — in 2003. By the time she played the lead in fan favorite Mean Girls in 2004, it looked as if Lohan was prepared to make the leap from child star to accomplished grown-up actor.

But then things began to go awry. 

Lindsay Lohan has struggled to overcome her past 

Around the same time that Lohan’s popularity was peaking, she became a tabloid sensation. Headlines focused more on her partying and social life than her professional accomplishments. Though she continued to act, her films failed to earn critical acclaim. She starred in Herbie Fully Loaded in 2005 and Georgia Rule in 2007

The hard-partying lifestyle that landed Lohan on tabloids’ front pages also landed her in court. Drugs and alcohol prompted legal troubles that sent Lohan to court more than a dozen times. She also spent more than 250 days in rehab as she tried to harness her addiction. 

As Lohan attempted to rebrand herself — including a foray into fashion — and stage a comeback, she relocated to Dubai to escape the party-girl image that seemed to follow her. Roles in the TV Show Sick Note (2018) and film Among the Shadows (2019) have provided Lohan small steps back into the spotlight. 

She once did an interview in a foreign accent


The Rise and Fall of Lindsay Lohan (and What She’s Doing Now)

As Lohan attempted to shake off her tawdry past and build a new identity in the public eye, she did an interview that gained viral acclaim for a seemingly bizarre reason. In 2016, Lohan seemed to have picked up a new accent, and no one could quite pinpoint the sound. Vanity Fair asked, “Long Island tinged with Irish? Irish with Mediterranean undertones? Mediterranean with a touch of Eastern European?”

Some internet commenters took this as yet another sign Lohan was desperate for attention. But it turns out there’s a logical explanation. It’s possible Lohan was experiencing a psychological phenomenon known as the “echo effect.” According to researcher Wojciech Kulesza, the echo effect is “the phenomenon of repeating the words of conversational partners.” The act of taking on the speech patterns of those we’re talking with is a natural state of human connection: “Mimicry — imitating behavior — is described as unconscious tendency to create bonds with others, a social glue which bonds us to other people. It seems it is imprinted in our nature.” 

The echo effect has affected other celebrities too. Madonna picked up an English accent while living abroad. Oprah has admitted to subtly mimicking her guests’ speech patterns. So although Lohan’s bizarre accent may have struck fans as an affectation, she might’ve been echoing her interviewer’s voice.