Grammar Nazi, or someone who constantly points out typos and grammatical errors he or she observes online has “less agreeable” personalities than the one who overlooks the errors, according to a new study. And, such people are generally less open, and are more likely to judge you for your mistakes more negatively than anyone else.
The study was carried out by researchers at University of Michigan, and is the first to show that an individual’s personality traits can actually determine how one reacts to typos and grammatical errors.
“This is the first study to show that the personality traits of listeners/readers have an effect on the interpretation of language,” says the study’s lead author, Julie Boland, in a news release. “In this experiment, we examined the social judgments that readers made about the writers.”
For the study, the researcher asked 83 participants to read email responses to an ad for a housemate. The emails either contained no errors or had been altered to include either typos, such as “mkae” instead of “make,” or “abuot” instead “about”, or grammar errors, such as “to/too,” “it’s/its,” or “your/you’re.”
The participants then rated the email writers based on their perceived intelligence, friendliness and other attributes, as well as provided information about themselves. At the end of the experiment, they were asked if they noticed any typos or grammatical errors in the responses. If the participants answered “yes,” they showed how much the errors bothered them.
They found that the extroverted participants were much more likely to overlook typos and grammatical errors, whereas the introverted ones were more likely to judge the person who makes such errors more negatively because of them. Also as expected, participants who reported grammar being important at the beginning of the experiment were more likely to be bothered by grammatical errors at the end.
“In addition, less agreeable people are more sensitive to grammatical errors, while more conscientious and less open people are sensitive to typos,” the researchers said. The findings have been published in the journal PLOS One