Study Finds Grammar Freaks Are Actually Annoying Jerks

April 6, 2016

It’s ‘jewellery’ not ‘jewelry’.

Nothing makes people angrier than when someone points out they’ve mispronounced or spelt a word incorrectly. And now a new study by the University of Michigan has confirmed what we thought all along: grammar Nazis are legit pains in the ass.

The study found the annoying habit is actually a result of having a less agreeable nature. Extroverts are far more likely to overlook grammatical and spelling errors while introverted people have a much higher tendency to judge those make them.

Conducted with 83 participants, the study measured individuals’ reactions to email responses to an ad for a roommate. A select group of the responses were sent with deliberate spelling errors – abuot for about and mkae for make – and grammatical faults such as too/to, it’s/its and your/you’re. Once participants finished reading the emails they were asked if they noticed mistakes and whether their opinion of the fictional respondent was tainted.

As well as this, participants were asked to complete a Big Five Personality Index (BFI) as part of the experiment, which measures age, background and attitude towards language as well as where a person sits on a scale of openness, agreeableness, extraversion, introversion, neuroticism and conscientiousness.

Comparing results, analysts saw the participants who answered ‘yes’ to having an issue with grammatical errors and typos also had less agreeable personalities. Since agreeability is defined by the BFI as trusting, generous, sympathetic, cooperative and not aggressive or cold, grammar freaks often struggle to possess these more likeable traits. Meanwhile, those participants with agreeable personalities were happy to disregard the mistakes in the email.

University of Michigan professor of linguistics and psychology, Julie Boland, who led the experiment, said participants who tested as more agreeable were more positive overall and easier to get along with.

“The is the first study to show that the personality traits of listeners or readers have an effect on the interpretation of language… In this experiment, we examined the social judgements that readers made about writers.”

While it’s suggested we live our lives on our own terms and flaunt own our personality, whether we’re an introvert or extrovert, it seems people may prefer grammar warriors to tape their mouths shut and stop correcting people. Seriously, nobody likes a perfectionist.

Image via favim.com.

Comment: Are you guilty of being a grammar Nazi?


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