Warning: if you’re someone who uses a period at the end of a sentence in a text, the person on the receiving end might think you’re full of bullshit, according to a new study. Researchers at Binghamton University found that text messages ending with a period are perceived to be less sincere compared to messages that leave them out.

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In the study, titled, “Texting insincerely: the role of the period in text messaging,” lead researcher Celia Kin had her team ask 126 undergrads to evaluate series of exchanges which appeared either as texts or handwritten notes, reports Wall Street Journal. The sender’s message contained a statement and invitation, such as, “Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?” with the receiver’s response being an affirmative one-word response. One version of the response would include a period at the end (“Yes.”), while the other version would end without any punctuation (“Sure”). The texts including a period were rated as less sincere.

“Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations,” said Klin. “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.”

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I have to admit, I always felt the use of a period in a text meant something more. Not so much as the sender isn’t sincere, but as if that glaring period conveyed a depressing vibe, as if Eeyore were replying to my texts.

Klin’s team also found the exclamation point to be viewed as the most sincere. “That’s not surprising, but it broadens our claim,” explains Klin. “Punctuation is used and understood by texters to convey emotions and other social and pragmatic information.Given that people are wonderfully adept at communicating complex and nuanced information in conversations, it’s not surprising that as texting evolves, people are finding ways to convey the same types of information in their texts.”

Now is a good time to pay a visit over to Cher’s Twitter, as she is the master of conveying real emotion through the tools of our modern times. Nary a period will be found, but exclamation marks shall flourish like a field of flowers.


Contact the author at marie.lodi@jezebel.com.

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