Most Gramar Nazis Are Jerks

Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that those constantly bothered by grammatical mistakes online have “less agreeable” personalities than people who just let them slide.

This is, of course, in opposition to conventional thinking among many linguists, the authors write. After all, many academics tend to see the so-called grammar police as just a few bad apples.

In order to see whether there was an actual connection between personality and the impulse to correct somebody’s writing, the team asked 80 people through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to read a bunch of emails. The emails contained spelling (“teh instead of “the”) or grammatical mistakes such as “your” instead of “you’re”. After reading the emails, people were asked to judge the sender based on their “perceived intelligence, friendliness, and other attributes.”

In addition, the team administered a questionnaire that measured people’s levels of extroversion and agreeableness. 

One of the questionnaires required them to judge the writer:

plos one chart

via Plos One

Based on the participant’s responses, more negative ratings were given to the ones that made more grammatical errors, as one might expect. Nevertheless, there is something interesting when it comes to personality traits here.

Compared to extroverts who let typos slide, introverted people judged grammatical errors more harshly.

Also, the less agreeable types got more upset by grammatical errors.

In other words, as Chris Weller wrote for Tech Insider, “People who correct other people’s typos can be some of the biggest nuisances around – not just because they’re pointing out flaws, but for the added conceit of thinking they’re doing you a favor.”

Having read this, it is unlikely that you would mind making mistakes as much from now on. Just have a laugh by sending this link to any Grammar Nazi that keeps bothering you.

And for the members of the Grammar Police, when the urge to correct someone else’s grammar mistake overtakes you next time, just take a deep breath and let it go (unless you want to be a jerk).

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