Are you one of those people quick to comment or correct a person’s grammar on social media, even without considering if English is their first language or not? If you answered yes, then consider yourself a world-class prat.
Recent scientific study has revealed that people who criticize others for the way they write aren’t broad-minded people. In fact, scientists have concluded they are most likely disreputable, contemptible people.
The scientific journal PLOS One published a research paper in 2016 that presents a theory on how a person communicating and behaving online can determine the personality and characteristics of an individual. According to the author, the University of Michigan’s Julia Boland, the personality decides how you interpret language.
The experiment involved 83 participants that were asked to judge a writer based on what they read. The selected material included an ad for a housemate and follow-up emails. Controlled grammatical mistakes and typos were added into the material and given to the participants to analyze and read.
The participants were also asked to review the emails based on what attributes the sender may hold, and how suitable and applicable these attributes were for a potential housemate. The 83 participants were also asked if the syntax errors and typos bothered them.
Once completed, the participants then underwent a personality assessment to judge if they were extroverted/introverted, and how agreeable they were when communicating online. They were also asked about how they considered language—was it a communication tool or something further?
The results showed introverts were concerned over the typos and spellings errors and were more likely to judge harshly compared to the extroverts who were willing to let things go. While introverts wanted to go beyond superficial mistakes and dig deeper, the extrovert didn’t see the typos and errors as much of a problem.
The outcomes also demonstrated that those who had extrovert tendencies and were conscientious but not as open also found grammatical errors to be problematic, if not downright offensive, like their introverted counterparts.
What is important to take away from this research is that the sample size was small and based simply on personality. Other facts such as age and education were not considered in this research, something that could skew the results greatly if taken into account.
Despite what the research suggests, people make spelling mistakes. Whether the writer is fluent in English or not, you shouldn’t be the jerk who points it out when it happens. There’s no points for being a prat.