A PLOS One study tells us that people who are less agreeable, according to a Big Five Personality assessment, judge paragraphs with typos and grammatical errors more harshly. Researchers at The University of Michigan asked 80 participants to take the personality test and then respond to a paragraph that had two typos and two grammatical errors.
According to the authors,
"Summarizing the results, three out of the Big Five personality traits interacted with only one type of error, either grammos (agreeability) or typos (openness, conscientiousness). One trait (extraversion) interacted with both types of errors, and one trait (neuroticism) interacted with neither. This pattern is consistent with our speculation that typos and grammos carry different evaluative weight and potentially different social meanings."
The results aren't as interesting to me as how the study is getting spun. The article is appropriately titled: "If You’re House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email: Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages." However, a Mashable article reads, "People obsessed with grammar aren't as nice as everybody else, study suggests."
This seems to be a bold conclusion: is identifying four mistakes in a short paragraph considered an obsession? In answering the questions about the writer, shown here, I'm not sure how the respondents could be called obsessive.
- Do I sound defensive? I am, but do I have a point?
- Do the study results surprise you? Read more detail about the influence of the five personality types in the PLOS One article.