Home Curiosity People Who Point Out Grammar Mistakes Are JERKS, Science Says

People Who Point Out Grammar Mistakes Are JERKS, Science Says


Are you one of those people who just can’t resist pointing out other people’s grammatical mistakes while showing off your impressive grammar knowledge? Are you a person who always points out the differences between ‘there’, ‘they’re’, and ‘their’, and you get a heart attack when someone writes “your” instead of “you’re”?  

If you are, science says – you are a jerk!

A study from the University of Michigan discovered that those people who are ‘grammar police’ are in fact huge jerks, and their behavior is a result of certain personality traits that they possess.

For example, extroverted people tend to overlook grammatical mistakes and typos, while introverted ones are prone to judge harshly those people who make grammatical mistakes.

The study included 83 participants who were asked to read email responses to an ad for a roommate. Some emails were changed on purpose to include typos, such us abuot (about), mkae (make), or grammar mistakes, such us its/it’s, your/you’re or to/too.

Then, the participants were asked whether they noticed the mistakes. Those who said ‘yes’ were then asked to elaborate their answer.

The researchers found a correlation between agreeability and sensitivity to errors. Namely, those participants who got the most disturbed with the mistakes were said to be the least agreeable ones. Contrary to them, people with more agreeable personalities were more likely to overlook mistakes and typos.

Agreeability is a set of psychological measurements also knows as the BFI (Big Five Personality Index), and people who are ‘agreeable’ are described as generous, trusting, cooperative and sympathetic. Contrary to them, those who are not ‘agreeable’ are described as cold and aggressive.

Julie Boland, a professor of psychology and linguistics and also the lead author of the study, said that their experiment served to examine the social judgments that listeners/readers have about the writers and also to show how the personality traits of the readers impacted their interpretation of the texts.

It was found that those participants who got annoyed by the mistakes in the emails were judgmental about the writer of the email also.

“Agreeability was the only personality trait to have a main effect on the Housemate Scale. Participants who tested as more agreeable on the BFI tended to rate the paragraphs more positively overall than participants who tested as less agreeable,” according to the study.

So, next time when you find yourself in a situation when you have an urge to correct someone else’s grammar, just stop for a moment and ask yourself: Do I really have to do this? Or am I really a jerk?