If you don’t want to seem dishonest, stop using period at the end of your texts. A new study published by researchers at Binghamton University says that people who are ending their texts messages with a period are more likely to seem insincere than those who are not using any punctuation at the end of their messages.
Celia Klin, associated professor of psychology at Binghamton University, together with a team of scientists conducted a study on 126 Binghamton undergraduate volunteers. The subjects have been asked to read more texts messages and handwritten notes.
All the writings were invitations to different places or events, ending with a question. Their affirmative responses were either ending with a period, either without punctuation. Volunteers were asked to rate the answers considering which ones they believed were honest.
The results of the experiment show that answers ended with a period were mostly rated as being insincere than those without any punctuation. However, this was only the case for the text messages, and not for the handwritten notes, on which no significant difference has been found.
Celia Klin claims that the results of the study indicate that the perceived meaning of the text is influenced by the punctuation. Details regarding social situation and context were missing from the texts read by volunteers so they have been assessed as more or less sincere based on the presence or absence of the period.
Researchers believe that the punctuation is a mechanism used by texters to replace the social cues used in real face to face conversations. Since when texting you cannot make use of non-verbal communication like the tone of voice, pauses, facial expressions and so on, when texting, people replace this indicators with deliberate misspellings, emoticons and – as shown by this study – punctuation.
Other study conducted by Professor Klin has shown that the exclamation mark does exactly the opposite as the period, making the user seem more honest.
Since punctuation is used to convey emotions, Klin argue that it is natural for people to adapt as the practice of texting evolves and find new mechanism to communicate and understand the non-verbal information they can find in their text messages.
The study conducted by Prof. Klin has been published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior on November 22.
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