Just as I suspected: Studies show grammar Nazis are arrogant sociopaths

From Gizmodo:

According to a bunch of fancy linguists, people who are more sensitive to written typos and grammatical errors are indeed the kinds of Type A assholes everyone already suspects them to be.

The findings came from a new study out of the University of Michigan. Researchers gathered 83 people and had them read emails that either contained typos (“mkae” or “abuot”), grammar errors (to/too, it’s/its or your/you’re), or no spelling mistakes at all. At the end, the participants, who had also been asked to give information about themselves, scored the writers on “perceived intelligence, friendliness, and other attributes.”

The team reported that extraverts were more likely to wave off spelling errors, whereas introverts were basically like, “You’re a fucking idiot, learn to construct a goddamn sentence, Christ almighty.” Less agreeable people were more likely to notice grammar errors, which the researchers mused was because these types “are less tolerant of deviations from convention.” (Or they’re just assholes, but who can say?) People who were more conscientious and less open were more sensitive to typos.

It didn’t really matter whether it was a typo or a grammatical error, though, because the results were clear: The people who notice either of these things and let it inform their perspective are what I believe kids these days are calling “the worst.”

13 thoughts on “Just as I suspected: Studies show grammar Nazis are arrogant sociopaths

  1. Hello, I heard about this study on NPR and wanted to find out more. I googled and found your blog post, then I read the article you linked to, and am a little surprised that you then characterized spelling nitpickers as being “arrogant sociopaths” and Nazis.

    The article seemed to say these people were either “introverted” or “less agreeable” or, at worst, “less open.” This is a leap – to go from “less open” to “arrogant sociopath.” Did I miss something?

    Sometimes extroverts dislike the introverted person’s social style. Extroverts can over-react to introverted approaches.

    And, the tone of this blog post felt like an over-reaction. Is there more to this that you could explain to us? BTW, I could only get the second of the two links to work – do you think the first link might have had a deeper explanation?

  2. The author of the blog post spelled “extroverts” improperly in the sentence that reads “The team reported that extraverts were more likely….” I’m just saying….

  3. It’s never acknowledged that the “grammar Nazi” (horrible term) may be a person who enjoys language, who loves skilful writing and speech, who likes to be in the hands of a good author. No one blames the person who has an equivalent attitude to sport.

  4. With language as with many things (cooking comes to mind), there are those who appreciate the effort and attention to details others manifest, and there are those who do not. And taking pride in your own writing or food is much different than taking delight in pointing out the mistakes, casual or otherwise, made by others. One can be particular about things without being an asshole, although I admit the two often go hand-in-hand. The only umbrage I take at casual mistakes, especially in online forums, is when it is obvious that the commentator did not bother to read his own words before clicking “Post Comment.” This conveys to me a lack of thoughtfulness and common courtesy that makes me reluctant to take the writer seriously. Given the sheer number of words we all read and (presumably) write every day, if you can’t spend two minutes cleaning up your thoughts, why should anyone listen?

  5. Ug, the study doesn’t connect this behavior to an actual diagnoses of sociopath/psychopath.

    I trusted you knew what the technical meaning of sociopath was and didn’t go read the study. So during a heated debate I linked the Gizmodo article and suggested that the grammar nazi, who was abusing me, could be a sociopath.
    That just gave her even more fuel to abuse me with as the study never mentions sociopath.
    I was pretty embarrassed the rest of the day as my emotions are not shallow.

    Owell, my fault for not being more careful.

    As for:
    April 8, 2016 at 10:03 am
    “if you can’t spend two minutes cleaning up your thoughts, why should anyone listen?”

    Life is short and social media has demanded even more time from an already short life so that sometimes people do not even have that 2 minutes to clean up their thoughts. If you have children, a job, a TV viewing schedule, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, etc notifications coming at you everyday then you will make regular mistakes as time pressures rise.

    1. I agree, which is why we are all best served by not making too big a deal about this while at the same time attempting to be clear and reasonably succinct (and thereby considerate) when we comment, as you indeed were in your reply. It is the gibberish, especially when deadly earnest or mean-spirited, that grates on me. I admit it would grate even if carefully written, so maybe this is just a personal prejudice to which I remain firmly attached.

Feel free to comment!