If you’re fastidious about using proper punctuation in your text messages, your friends might think you’re a jerk.
A new study out of Binghampton University in New York found text messages with periods at the end of them were perceived as less sincere than text messages without periods.
The study utilized a small sampling of 126 undergraduate students who were presented with a series of exchanges that were either text messages or handwritten notes. The 16 exchanges contained a statement followed by an invitation posed as a question (example: “Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?”) and an affirmative one-word response from the receiver (“Okay”, “sure”, “yeah”, “yup”).
Here’s an example:
Two versions of each exchange were presented: one receiver’s response with a period and one without. The responses without a period were considered to be more sincere.
“Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations. When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses, and so on,” said lead researcher Celia Kiln in a press release.
“People obviously can’t use these mechanisms when they are texting. 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.”
Conversely, in some recent follow-up experiments, exclamation points were perceived as being more sincere.
Or, rather: more sincere!
Kiln said punctuation is used by texters to convey emotions, so the results are hardly surprising.
The study titled “Texting insincerely: the role of the period in text messaging” was published in Computers in Human Behaviour.