Online grammar police are total grumps: science

Dec 19 2017, 11:17 am

It turns out their might be an connection between people whom correct grammar and spelling and “less agreeable” personalities, according too a study published in online journal PLOS ONE.

If that opening sentence made your skin crawl, it might have something to do with your personality.

A recent study is one of the first to examine the association between personality types and peoples’ association with language. The research had 83 participants go through email applications in response to an ad for a housemate, before filling out a questionnaire on the applicant based on each email that they read. The participants were presented with three kinds of emails; those without errors, with grammatical errors only, or with typos only.

Unsurprisingly the study found that, overall, the emails with errors were scored more poorly on the “Housemate Scale” than the perfect emails. Interestingly “less agreeable” people tended to be more bothered by grammatical errors, while “less open” and “sensitive” types were put off by typos.

Introverted people were more likely to judge the error-filled emails poorly, while extroverts tended to overlook them. Participants who tested as “more agreeable” during personality testing scored the emails with errors higher than those who tested as “less agreeable.”

Basically, grumps tend to point out errors more. But you probably already knew that.

“This is the first study to show that the personality traits of listeners/readers have an effect on the interpretation of language,” said Julie Boland, U-M professor of linguistics and psychology, and the study’s lead author. “In this experiment, we examined the social judgments that readers made about the writers.”

For more information, find the entire study on PLOS ONE.

DH Calgary StaffDH Calgary Staff

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