Science proves that people who point out grammar mistakes are all total jerks
Are you the type of person who cringes when you spot a misused apostrophe? Can you feel your stomach turn when someone doesn't know the difference between 'their', 'there' and 'they're'? Does your skin crawl when you come across a missing comma?
Well, you're a jerk.
That's what a study seemingly told us back in 2016, anyway. According to research from the University of Michigan, if you're the type of person who can't help but point out grammar mistakes, it doesn't bode well for your entire personality.
To see whether there was a big connection between personality and the impulse to correct someone's writing, the research team asked 83 people through Amazon's Mechanical Turk to read a batch of emails.
The messages had some major spelling mistakes including "teh" instead of "the" and grammar errors like "its" instead of "it's". After people read through the emails, they were asked to judge the sender on their "perceived intelligence, friendliness, and other attributes."
One of the questions had them judging the writer based on certain perceptions. They included the following:
I think I would be friends with this person
The writer would be a good housemate
The writer seems a lot like me
The writer seems friendly
The writer seems more sophisticated than most of my friends
The writer seems less intelligent than most of my friends
The writer seems conscientious
The writer seems considerate
The writer seems likable
The writer seems trustworthy
Another question involved five personality traits - extraversion, agreeability, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness - with participants asked if they spotted any grammatical errors or typos and how much it irritated them.
The results reportedly showed that extroverted people tended not to pick at people's mistakes, but introverts did. This is allegedly likely because extroverts are happier to separate a person's mistakes from their core self, whereas introverts may closely connect the two.
In addition, the team found a separate negative correlation between a person's level of agreeableness and their likelihood of highlighting the errors. Basically, if you're a Grammar Nazi, you might not be the most open-minded.
It must be pointed out though, the research only looked at 83 people, which is a relatively small number and not enough to draw a definitive conclusion.
"What is new in the current results is our finding that the personality traits of the reader influence the impact of typos and grammos. As we discuss above, these findings have implications for theories accounting for individual variation in language processing. They also add to the growing literature on the relationship between personality and language, which until now, has examined only certain aspects of language production, without considering any aspects of language interpretation," wrote the authors of the study, Julie E. Boland and Robin Queen.
However, if you want to use it to call out your grammar Nazi friend for being a jerk, why the hell not?