Spelling errors in brief computer-mediated texts implicitly lead to linearly additive penalties in trustworthiness

Witchel, Harry J, Jones, Christopher I, Thompson, Georgina A, Westling, Carina E I, Romero, Juan, Nicotra, Alessia, Maag, Bruno and Critchley, Hugo D (2022) Spelling errors in brief computer-mediated texts implicitly lead to linearly additive penalties in trustworthiness. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. a873844 1-8. ISSN 1664-1078

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Background: Spelling errors in documents lead to reduced trustworthiness, but the mechanism for weighing the psychological assessment (i.e., integrative versus dichotomous) has not been elucidated. We instructed participants to rate content of texts, revealing that their implicit trustworthiness judgments show marginal differences specifically caused by spelling errors.

Methods: An online experiment with 100 English-speaking participants were asked to rate 27 short text excerpts (∼100 words) about multiple sclerosis in the format of unmoderated health forum posts. In a counterbalanced design, some excerpts had no typographic errors, some had two errors, and some had five errors. Each participant rated nine paragraphs with a counterbalanced mixture of zero, two or five errors. A linear mixed effects model (LME) was assessed with error number as a fixed effect and participants as a random effect.

Results: Using an unnumbered scale with anchors of “completely untrustworthy” (left) and “completely trustworthy” (right) recorded as 0 to 100, two spelling errors resulted in a penalty to trustworthiness of 5.91 ± 1.70 (robust standard error) compared to the reference excerpts with zero errors, while the penalty for five errors was 13.5 ± 2.47; all three conditions were significantly different from each other (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Participants who rated information about multiple sclerosis in a context mimicking an online health forum implicitly assigned typographic errors nearly linearly additive trustworthiness penalties. This contravenes any dichotomous heuristic or local ceiling effect on trustworthiness penalties for these numbers of typographic errors. It supports an integrative model for psychological judgments of trustworthiness.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Neuroscience
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0311 Consciousness. Cognition
Depositing User: Harry Witchel
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 07:39
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2022 07:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/106332

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