Grammar nazis who constantly point out mistakes are jerks, scientists say

Do you constantly get irritated and point out grammatical mistakes and typographical errors you encounter?

Scientists believe that grammar nazis who often point out errors have “less agreeable” personalities compared to those lenient on these mistakes.


A study carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan looked into social judgements of readers on writers. In the study, 83 participants were asked to read email responses to an ad for a housemate. Each email response either contained grammatical mix-ups or typos or no errors at all.

The participants were then asked to judge the writer of the email based on perceived friendliness, intelligence, and other attributes. At the end of the experiment, the participants were also asked if they found any grammatical errors or typos in the email, and how much it had bothered them.

The Big Five Personality assessment, which evaluates a person’s openness, neuroticism, extraversion/introversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, was also given to the participants. Their age, background, and attitude towards language were also obtained by the researchers.

All the participants rated the fictional housemate applicants who committed typographical and grammatical errors in their emails as worse than applicants with perfect grammar and spelling.

Moreover, they also observed certain personality types among the “grammar nazis.”

Extroverts were generally more likely to ignore grammatical and typographical errors compared to introverts. On the other hand, people who were more conscientious but less open were found to be more conscious of typographical errors.

Meanwhile, individuals with less agreeable personalities were more sensitive to grammatical errors.

The researchers suggested: “Perhaps because less agreeable people are less tolerant of deviations from convention.”

However, having a neurotic personality didn’t influence how an individual interpreted language mistakes.

Still, more research is needed to confirm these links.

Written by mmalabanan

Mini is a work-at-home mom from Laguna. Aside from writing, she's passionate about breastfeeding and homeschooling.

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