Researchers claim that people who constantly point out grammar mistakes are jerks

Do you have friends who are super-sensitive to typo or grammatical errors online? According to a new research from the University of Michigan titled “If You’re House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email,” that was published earlier this month indicates that people who constantly get bothered by grammatical errors online have “less agreeable” personalities than those who just let them pass. In other words, these people are more likely judging you for your mistakes than everyone else.

In the study carried out by the researchers, 83 participants were asked to read email responses to an ad for a housemate with typos and judge the person who’d written the email based on their perceived intelligence, friendliness, and other attributes, such as how good they would be as housemates. The participants were also asked at the end of the experiment whether or not they had spotted any grammatical errors or typos in the emails, and, if so, how much it had bothered them.

Finally, they were asked to evaluate the writer’s personality and level of intelligence, and then evaluate themselves on the 5 Big Personality Traits: extraversion, agreeability, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. In all likelihood, grammar police tend to be disagreeable, close-minded, and painstaking introverts.

“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.”

On a whole, everybody rated the fictional housemate applicants with typos and grammatical errors in their emails as worse than those with perfect spelling and grammar. But there were absolutely certain personality types that judged the typo-riddled applicants more harshly.

The researchers who assessed the participants based on their subjects, age, and socio-economic status, came to some conclusions. They write:

Both typos and grammos had a negative impact on the evaluation scale. This negative impact was not modulated by age, education, electronic communication frequency, or pleasure reading time. In contrast, personality traits did modulate assessments, and did so in distinct ways for grammos and typos.

For example, the team reported that extroverts were more likely to wave off spelling and grammar errors, whereas introverts were more likely to judge the applicants negatively because of them.

People tested as being more careful but less open were more sensitive to typos, while those with less agreeable personalities got more upset by grammatical errors. “Perhaps because less agreeable people are less tolerant of deviations from convention,” the researchers write.

The research has been published in PLOS One.