A joint paper by Robin Queen and Julie Boland just appeared in the new multimodal online journal Linguistics Vanguard. This new journal publishes “concise and up-to-date reports on the state of the art in linguistics as well as cutting-edge research papers”. Robin and Julie’s research fits perfectly into this niche. In their paper, they explore issues at the intersection between disciplines as diverse as linguistics, communication studies, and social psychology. They report on two experiments investigating how grammatical and typographical errors in an email message influence reader judgments about the sender of the message, showing that readers respond differently to the two kinds of errors. Full bibliographic information about their paper, including an abstract, is given below.
Queen, Robin & Julie E. Boland. I think your going to like me: Exploring the role of errors in email messages on assessments of potential housemates. Linguistics Vanguard. ISSN (Online) 2199-174X, DOI: 10.1515/lingvan-2015-0011, August 2015.
Two experiments explored reader reaction to written errors that were either typographic or grammatical. Errors were embedded in short texts presented as email responses to a housemate ad. In the first experiment, readers evaluated the writer and message on several dimensions (e.g., Was the writer trustworthy? Did the email flow smoothly?). Those dimensions were divided into a “social” scale (e.g. “This student seems similar to me”) and an “academic” scale (e.g. “This email reads well”). Both kinds of error correlated with lower ratings on the academic scale while only grammatical errors correlated with lower ratings on the social scale. In the second experiment, readers were asked to edit the emails. In Experiment 1, paragraphs with either typographical or grammatical errors were both evaluated more negatively than fully correct paragraphs and the cost was mitigated by high levels of electronic communication, such as texting and using Facebook. In Experiment 2, typos were more likely to be corrected than either homophonous grammatical forms or hypercorrected forms. These results suggest that written errors, when they are salient, contribute to the social meaning of text. Furthermore, this contribution is modulated by at least some characteristics of the reader.