According to a recent study, text messages ending with a full stop are perceived to be less sincere than messages that do not.
The study, led by Celia Klin at Binghamton University, included 126 undergraduates. The participants were told to evaluate numerous one-word text message responses (like “Okay,” “Sure,” “Yeah” or “Yup”) ending with different forms of punctuation.
The results revealed that if the message ended in a full stop the response was interpreted as insincere or fake. Interestingly no such difference was found for handwritten notes.
“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 Celia Klin, associate professor of psychology and associate dean at Binghamton University’s Harpur College.
She added: “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.”
In follow-up work the researchers found that a text response with an exclamation mark is interpreted as more, rather than less, sincere.
“That’s not surprising, but it broadens our claim,” said Klin.
“Punctuation is used and understood by texters to convey emotions and other social and pragmatic information. 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.”
The study, titled ‘Texting insincerely: the role of the period in text messaging,’ was published Nov. 22, 2015 in Computers in Human Behavior.