People who constantly get bothered by grammatical errors online have “less agreeable” personalities than those who just let them slide.
“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 judgements that readers made about the writers.”
The researchers took 83 participants and asked them all to read email responses to an ad for a housemate, which either contained no errors or had been altered to include typos (e.g. “teh” instead of “the”) or grammatical mix-ups, such as too/to or it’s/its.
Based on their perceived intelligence, friendliness, and other attributes, were recorded and whether or not they’d spotted any grammatical errors or typos in the emails, and, if so, how much it had bothered them.
Personality assessment – which rates where they are on a scale of openness, agreeableness, extraversion/introversion, neuroticism, and conscientiousness was done.
Overall, everybody rated the fictional housemate applicants with typos and grammatical errors in their emails as worse than those with perfect spelling and grammar. Certain personality types judged the typo-riddled applicants more harshly.
Outgoing socially active people were generally much more likely to overlook both grammar mix ups and typos, whereas introverts were more likely to judge the applicants negatively because of them.
“Perhaps because less agreeable people are less tolerant of deviations from convention,” the researchers write.