Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 21–32 | Cite as

Does Writeing Rite Matter? Effects of Textual Errors on Personality Trait Attributions

  • Elizabeth Morin-Lessard
  • Stuart J. McKelvieEmail author


Adult participants (n = 224), mostly undergraduates, were randomly assigned to three major conditions representing three levels of textual errors (none, few, many). They read a text requesting financial assistance, then rated the writer on the Big Five personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Emotional Stability), and on three personality domains (Social Evaluation, Intellectual Evaluation, Potency). Finally, they judged the likelihood that the writer’s request would be granted, and gave reasons for their decision. Generally, textual errors created an overall negative impression, which was mainly accounted for by Conscientiousness. However, textual errors did not affect the financial judgments, which were predicted mainly by Conscientiousness and Intellectual Evaluation. Participants who cited writing errors in their reasons for their financial judgment gave a lower rating for the likelihood that the request would be honoured. For those who were more accurate at detecting errors, textual errors created a negative impression on the Big Five traits, accounted for by Conscientiousness, and on the three personality domains, accounted for by Intellectual Evaluation. There was also a negative effect of textual errors on the financial judgment, which was mediated mainly by Intellectual Evaluation. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Textual errors Personality attributions Financial recommendation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

This experiment was conducted with human participants. All procedures were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution and of the Canadian Tri-Council Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research involving Human Participants (TCPS2), 1998.

Conflict of Interest

Elizabeth Morin-Lessard declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Stuart J. McKelvie declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyConcordia UniversityMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyBishop’s UniversitySherbrookeCanada

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