How you punctuate your messages determines if you need to be taken seriously

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

How you punctuate your messages determines if you need to be taken seriously.

Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations. A new Binghamton University study of 126 undergrads reveals that texts ending with a period were seen as less sincere than those that left the full-stop punctuation mark off.Researchers at Binghamton University in New York and Rutgers University in New Jersey were examining whether punctuation can provide “pragmatic and social information”. The research team led by Celia Klin, an associate professor of psychology at the SUNY school, showed the subjects text messages featuring an invitation to an event — such as “Dave gave me his extra tickets. Researchers gathered 126 students to read a series of text exchanges (or textchanges, as we like to call them), each beginning with a question like ‘want to grab drinks later?’ and ending with one word replies complete with either a full stop or no punctuation.

It’s not surprising that as texting evolves, people are finding ways to convey the same types of information in their texts,” said lead researcher Celia Klin. 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 write in the study, which was published recently in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. As in the example above (which I harassed a friend into making with me, lest you worry that I’m having drinks with a robot that doesn’t understand how to love) the experimental messages featured an invitation followed by a brief reply. When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses, and so on. ‘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.’ The conclusion here: texts that end with full stops – excellent for passive aggressive responses, not so great when you’re chatting with your friends. In some very recent follow-up work, Klin’s team found that a text response with an exclamation mark is interpreted as more, rather than less, sincere.

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