Was mom right? Does good penmanship matter?

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Yes. Essays written in more legible handwriting were evaluated more positively:

Evaluations of handwritten essays or exams are often suspected of being biased, such as by mood states or individual predilections. Although most of these influences are unsystematic, at least one bias is problematic because it systematically affects evaluations of handwritten materials. Three experiments revealed that essays in legible as compared to less legible handwriting were evaluated more positively. This robust finding was related to a basic judgmental mechanism that builds on the fluency with which handwriting can be processed. The present research further revealed that this evaluative bias is not inevitable but can be controlled for. Given the importance of evaluations based on handwritten work samples for individual success throughout school, college, university, and work life, it is important for individuals to be aware of this bias.

Source: “On Writing Legibly, Processing Fluency Systematically Biases Evaluations of Handwritten Material” from Social Psychological and Personality Science

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