I’ve been told numerous times that I sound “mean” in my texts due to the use of proper grammar. OK–maybe sometimes I can come off a little cold even though I don’t mean it.
And I guess I can admit that I should change my ways. Now, a study has confirmed that.
The new study, published by Binghamton University, said that ending texts with a period can make you seem less sincere. “Text messaging is one of the most frequently used computer-mediated communication (CMC) methods. The rapid pace of texting mimics face-to-face communication, leading to the question of whether the critical non-verbal aspects of conversation, such as tone, are expressed in CMC,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
“We ask whether punctuation–specifically, the period–may serve as a cue for pragmatic and social information,” the study stated.
The researchers recruited 126 undergraduate students to read several exchanges–in text message or written note form–which did or didn’t include a sentence ending in a period. Across 16 experimental chats, the sender contained a statement and a question: “Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?” And the recipient responded with one word: “Okay,” “Yeah,” “Yup,” “Sure,” PC World reported.
The participants looked at two versions of each exchange: one with a response with a period and one without a period. The study says that those punctuated with a period were “less sincere” than those without one. Researchers did not conclude any differences among handwritten notes.
Since a lot of people text instead of calling or talking in person these days, social cues become less and less clear. “When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses and so on,” lead researcher Celia Klin said in a statement.
“People obviously can’t use these mechanisms when they are texting,” she said. “Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them–emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation.”
And in a follow-up, Klin’s team found that a text response with an exclamation point is considered more sincere, PC World reported. “Given that people are wonderfully adept at communicating complex and nuanced information in conversations, it’s not surprising that as texting evolves, people are finding ways to convey the same types of information in their texts,” Klin said.
So I guess if you’re texting your mother-in-law, or your crush, or your boss, don’t use periods! Exclamation points would be a much better choice.