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BizReport : Research archives : December 10, 2015

Is your punctuated text message giving out the wrong vibe?

Grammar and punctuation pedants take note - using a period in a text message will make you come across as less sincere, according to new academic research.

by Helen Leggatt

Earlier this year we learnt that using question marks in email subject lines leads to more opens than if using an exclamation mark. In fact, the presence of any type of punctuation was found to increase open rates by as much as 9%, but question marks were found to be particularly effective at engaging recipients. Subject lines with question marks were found to have open rates 44% greater than those with exclamation marks.

But the same can't be said for text messages, according to new research from Binghampton University's Harpur College.

The research consisted of giving 126 Binghampton students a series of messages written either as text messages or handwritten notes. In each case, the messages contained a statement phrased as a question (e.g. Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?) with a response in the affirmative given in one word (okay, sure, yeah, yup). Those responses were split into two versions - one with a period at the end and one without.

The results showed that text messages that ended with a period were perceived as being less sincere than those without. This was only the case, however, for text messages with the handwritten notes not falling foul of this emotional phenomena.

"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 and lead researcher. "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."

Additional research by Klin also suggests that exclamation marks in text messages make the sender appear more sincere than if no punctuation were present.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: language, mobile, research, text message, trends

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  • The_Spitfire_Pilot

    Abandon English language punctuation?! Hang on a minute. We're still dumping Christianity ...



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