“Grammar snobs are a distinct breed from their gentle cousins: word nerds and grammar geeks,” writes June Casagrande in Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies. “The difference is bloodlust.”
A new study confirms what Casagrande and anyone who’s ever received a little constructive criticism on an email already knew. People who (or should I say whom?) are easily vexed by grammatical errors are just the worst. Researchers from the University of Michigan found a correlation between having an agreeable and extroverted personality and the ability to let those little email errors slide.
Eighty-three people were asked to read fake email responses to a roommate wanted ad. Some emails contained typos and grammatical errors and some did not. They were asked to rate the “potential roommates” based on a series of prompts after reading the emails. Participants were then rated based on the Big Five Personality Index (BFI), which measures extraversion, agreeability, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.
Participants who were more extroverted, conscientious, and open (according to the BFI) tended to have a more positive and less judgmental view of potential housemates with errors in their emails.
“Less agreeable participants showed more sensitivity to grammos than participants high in agreeability,” researchers say, “perhaps because less agreeable people are less tolerant of deviations from convention.”
Put another way, grammar snobs may be grammar snobs because they just can’t let things go.