Stop Doing This When You’re Texting

You might be sending all the wrong signals

Photo: The Guardian

In the world of instant text messaging, the full stop has got to be the most hated punctuation mark. And even science agrees!

In a study by psychologists from New York’s University of Binghamton, 126 undergraduates were asked to rate short conversations conveyed through both instant messaging and handwritten notes. The results? Text messages that ended with a period were perceived as more insincere and aggressive, as opposed to the exclamation mark or not using punctuation at all. Interestingly, this angry-full-stop phenomenon did not apply to handwritten notes, where the undergraduates found no difference in tone between punctuation marks.

So how and when did the full stop become a negative signal? Celia Klin, who led the research, explains.

“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. 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 the case of texts, full-stops register in our minds as an abrupt end to a conversation, the same way exclamation marks signify excitement and !?!?!?! is now confusion. So, it’s time to throw grammar out the window and embrace new ways of ending a statement. Our advice — nothing says friendly more than an emoji.

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