Linguistics Senior Research Projects

Document Type

Capstone Project

Submission Date



Spelling errors, perception formation, intelligence, misspelling


This study seeks to understand how the presence of spelling errors affects readers’ perceptions of an author’s intelligence and writing ability. Undergraduate students and professors read a short essay and completed a sixteen-question questionnaire concerning their perceptions of the author and the essay. The number of spelling errors present (zero, five, or ten) in the essay was manipulated by the researcher. Participant perceptions of the author and the essay suffered as more spelling errors were found. Participants in the five- and ten-error conditions judged both the author and the essay more harshly, giving it lower scores. Further, intelligence ratings suffered as a result of more spelling errors. No strong correlation was found between perceived spelling ability and perceptions of the author and essay. These findings suggest that readers base their perceptions of both an author’s intelligence and an essay’s quality on the absence of spelling errors, but not on how well an individual thinks he or she spells.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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