If You're House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email: Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 9;11(3):e0149885. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149885. eCollection 2016.

Abstract

The increasing prevalence of social media means that we often encounter written language characterized by both stylistic variation and outright errors. How does the personality of the reader modulate reactions to non-standard text? Experimental participants read 'email responses' to an ad for a housemate that either contained no errors or had been altered to include either typos (e.g., teh) or homophonous grammar errors (grammos, e.g., to/too, it's/its). Participants completed a 10-item evaluation scale for each message, which measured their impressions of the writer. In addition participants completed a Big Five personality assessment and answered demographic and language attitude questions. Both typos and grammos had a negative impact on the evaluation scale. This negative impact was not modulated by age, education, electronic communication frequency, or pleasure reading time. In contrast, personality traits did modulate assessments, and did so in distinct ways for grammos and typos.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Behavior
  • Demography
  • Electronic Mail*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Personality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Writing*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.