Grammar can make all the difference when you’re texting, especially if you want to be seen as trustworthy.
According to a new study from Binghamton University’s Harpur College, what punctuation you use- or don’t use- could misconstrue the meaning of your message.
The team of researchers, led by associate professor of Psychology Celia Klin, had 126 undergrads read a series of exchanges, both as text messages and as handwritten notes, in which the responses did or did not end with a period.
Based on their response, text messages that ended with a period were seen as less sincere than texts that didn’t end with a period.
Interestingly, when participants read the same exchanges that were handwritten, no such differences were found.
“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 Klin. “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 a follow-up to the study, Klin’s team found that text responses with an exclamation point were interpreted as more sincere.
The study, “Texting insincerely: the role of the period in text messaging,” was published November 22 in Computers in Human Behavior.