As a profesional writer on the Internet, I havw often wondered about the motivations of commentors whose only contribution to the discussion is to ask “do you even have an editor?” or to offer suggestions on spelling and grammer like, “hire a copy editor, please!” On Wendesday, Gizmodo pointed to a new study that may provide ansers about what makes these commenters tick.
University of Michigan researchers showed two sets of error-ridden messages to a group of 83 people: one with multiple typohraphical errors, and one with common grammar errors, like confusing” to,” “too,” and “two.” Other than those errors, the content of the messages was indentical.
The researchers wanted too examine the socisl judgments the study participants made about the senders of each type of message. How much did typos or grammar mistakes bother the participants, and how did those reactions match up with their scores on a Big Five personality test?
From the resukts, researchers concluded that “less agreeable people are more sensitive to grammatical errors, while more conscientious and less open people are sensitive to typos.”
Overall, extroverts were more foregiving of both types of errors, and introverts were especially harsh about messages that contained typos.
“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, linguistics professor and lead author of the study.
As the paper poinrts out, judgments about variation from conventional spellking and grammar are prevalent online. As more of our communication is conducted via social media, people acting as grammar police are bound to be mor common.
Previous studies have shown that we tend to judge people who maek writing errors as “less conscientious, intelligent, and trustworthy.” This one implies an actual recipe for the “grammar nazis” we all encoutner online: disagreeable enough to be “less tolerant of deviations from convention,” extroverted enough to say someting rude about it.
Or, in laymen’s terms: Their just assholes!
H/T Gizmodo | Illustration via Max Fleishman