Grammatical errors can lower the perceived quality and credibility of news stories, but those results depend on the number of mistakes, two researchers have found.
Alyssa Appelman, assistant professor in the Communication department at the Northern Kentucky University, and Mike Schmierbach, associate professor of media studies at the Penn State, conducted four experiments to test how audiences process grammatical errors in news articles.
The first two studies test the main effects of grammatical errors on audience perceptions. One study had a sample of 106 students from undergraduate communications courses at a large public university in the United States. The other had a sample of 166 participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Participants read a news article with either zero or 10 grammatical errors.
Results of the first study showed that readers perceived articles with errors to be of lower quality than articles with no errors. But the second study with the MTurk sample showed no significant main effect of grammatical errors.
The third experiment included 159 participants from the United States recruited from MTurk, and the fourth had 164 students from a medium-sized public university in the United States from undergraduate courses in multiple departments. Participants read a news article with zero, 10 or 30 grammatical errors.
Results of both tests showed significant main effects of grammatical errors on perceived quality, perceived credibility and perceived informativeness.
The study suggests that readers perceive stories with grammatical errors to be lower in quality, credibility and informativeness, but the number of errors needed for those results is relatively large.
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2SuFko9
Appelman, A., & Schmierbach, M. (2018). Make No Mistake? Exploring Cognitive and Perceptual Effects of Grammatical Errors in News Articles. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 95(4), 930 –947.