Big surprise, people who point out typos are “jerks.” But do you know why? Or how to tell who will carry the badge of “language police”?
Studying the Grammar Elitist
Grammar elitists are those people what are commenting on your Facebook page about a mis-used there/their or its/it’s are judging you by your mistakes. Psychological testing has shown these people are generally less open and more judgemental.
It sounds obvious but this research was the first to show a person’s personality can actually determine how they respond to typos and grammatical errors. This could lead to a greater understanding about how we communicate online.
“This is the first study to show that the personality traits of listeners/readers have an effect on the interpretation of language,” said lead researcher Julie Boland from the University of Michigan. “In this experiment, we examined the social judgments that readers made about the writers.”
The study consisted of 83 participants that were asked to read and email response to an ad for a housemate. The ads either contained no errors or included typos or grammatical errors like too/to or it’s/its.
They were then asked to judge the writer’s perceived intelligence, friendliness and other attributes like how good of a housemate would they be.
At the end of the experiment they were ask if they had noticed any typos or spotted any grammatical errors in the emails and how much it bothered them.
Then the study participants completed a personality assessment rating their scale of openness, agreeableness, extraversion/introversion, neuroticism and conscientiousness. It also included questions about their age, background and attitude toward language.
No surprise, the applicant emails with typos and grammatical errors worse than the emails with perfect spelling and grammar. However, certain personality types judged typo-riddled emails much more harshly.
Extraverts were more likely to overlook grammar mix-ups and typos, but introverts were more likely to judge applicants negatively because of the very same typos and grammar errors.
Conscientious but less open people were more sensitive to typos but those with less agreeable personalities were upset more by grammatical errors. “Perhaps because less agreeable people are less tolerant of deviations from convention,” the researchers write.
Interestingly, how neurotic someone was didn’t affect how they interpreted mistakes.