Your/ you’re; there/their/they’re; where/wear; the/teh – did you just feel irritated? Or nervous? Did your restless leg syndrome kick? Did your eye start twitching? Be honest now, does this sound like you?
According to a study made by University of Michigan published in PLOS One, if you feel an intense need to fix even the tiniest grammatical error every time you hear one, you are a jerk.
Researchers believe it is possible to trace your “Grammar Police” behavior all the way back to specific personality traits.
The study involved reading email responses to an ad for a housemate and there were 83 participants. Some of the responses were flawless, but some were full of grammatical mistakes: the vs. teh, too’ vs. to, its vs. it’s.
When they’d finished reading them, the participants needed to answer some questionnaires. One of the questionnaires required them to judge the writer:
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 likeable
The writer seems trustworthy
The other questionnaire was a personality test which included the following traits: extroversion, agreability, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. Then, they were asked if they had noticed any grammatical errors, and if yes, how much it irked them.
Based on the responses the participants gave, lower ratings were given to the ones that made more grammatical errors, as expected. However, there is something interesting when it comes to personality traits.
In comparison to extroverts who let typos slide, introverts judged making grammatical errors more harshly. Also, the less agreeable ones got more upset by grammatical errors.
This is what Chris Weller wrote for Tech Insider, “People who correct other people’s typos can be some of the biggest nuisances around, not just because they’re pointing out flaws, but for the added conceit of thinking they’re doing you a favour.”
After reading this, I don’t think that you would mind if you made mistakes. Just send this link to any member of the Grammar Police that keeps bothering you.
On the other hand, if you are that member, when you feel the urge to fix someone’s grammar next time, just take a deep breath. No one wants to be a jerk, right?