News Psychology

Gizmodo: People who point out your typing errors are jerks

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From Gizmodo:

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.”

… 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.” More. (language warning)

U Michigan media release. Here’s the abstract. Open access

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Yes, that was your science dollar whistling past. 😉

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4 Replies to “Gizmodo: People who point out your typing errors are jerks

  1. 1
    TimT says:

    Over my 30 years as a professional editor and proofreader, I have found a strong pattern: People who think typos and grammar errors are not important are usually bad spellers with a weak grasp of English. That’s why they always rely on editors and proofreaders to fix their professional writing.

    If we are good at something we will always notice when others are bad at it. I just hope those researchers don’t apply their same reasoning to everything, e.g. to electricians who criticize sloppy wiring, to engineers who want a bridge to meet in the middle, to neurosurgeons extracting a brain tumor who don’t think “close enough is good enough.”

  2. 2
    News says:

    Hey TimT, I moonlight as an editor too. It’s hard for some of us to identify with the researchers’ thesis because

    1. For us, it’s just a job. People are paying us to find mistakes in their work that we are well suited to spotting.

    2. If someone runs around town doing that and it’s not his job (and in many cases, it’s unclear what his qualifications even are), what the researchers are really studying is a personal tendency to look for victims of Death-by-Public-Nitpicking.

    If they are content to put the matter in such general terms, they may well have a point. Otherwise …

  3. 3
    tjguy says:

    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.”

    I’m sure that is true in some cases, but sometimes I point out mistakes on websites to the website author simply to be helpful. I want their message to be unaffected by errors that might distract people or lower people’s views of the message.

    There is one site that thanks me for this and encourages me to continue to let them know if I find something. That makes me want to help all the more because they appreciate my help. I certainly do not view myself as a “less agreeable person” or that it is because I am less tolerant of deviations from convention. Actually, I may be that, but that is not why I point out the errors. I simply do it to be helpful.

  4. 4
    earthsinterface says:

    I always thought of this as an appropriate meme (& I don’t really even like memes) which is illustrative of the motive behind most who point out errors, especially with the subject matter referenced within origins debates

    https://cdn-selfish-prod.turbobytes.net/staged/host-prod/0914c46607486001-0914c46607486002.png

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