Image by Owen Iverson, licensed by CC.

Some people are more offended by these kinds of linguistic errors than others, but why? Ann Arbor psychologists Julie E. Boland and Robin Queen examine this in a new PLOS ONE paper called If You’re House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email: Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages

The authors recruited 83 volunteers (on MTurk) and asked them to imagine that they’d placed an online ad looking for a new housemate. The volunteers were then asked to evaluate a set of 12 ‘response e-mails’, as if from people replying to their ad. Some of the responses contained errors. Each participant got shown one version of each email: either well-written, or with typos, or with grammos (not both.)

For instance, here’s one of the ‘e-mails’ with the possible typos and grammos highlighted


Hey! My name is Pat and I’m interested in sharing a house with other students who are serious abuot (about) there (their) schoolwork but who also know how to relax and have fun. I like to play tennis and love old school rap. If your (you’re) someone who likes that kind of thing too, maybe we would mkae (make) good housemates.


The results showed that both typos and grammos had a negative impact on how likely the participants would be to accept the sender of each email as a housemate. Typos had the larger effect.


Read the full article "Responses to Typos and Personality: 'Grammar Nazis' Confirmed?" at Discover.