Texting with punctuation is 'insincere': Study

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Are you using punctuation when you text? You may be sending the wrong message.

Text messages that end with a period are perceived to be less sincere than messages not containing punctuation, according to a study conducted by Binghamton University.

A team of researchers, headed by Celia Klin, an associate professor of psychology at Binghamton University, asked 126 undergraduates to read a series of exchanges that appeared either as a text message or were handwritten.

"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," Klin said in a statement. "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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The messages used in Klin's study contained questions with affirmative one-word replies. For example, the question "Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?" followed by a response like "Okay," "Sure," "Yeah" or "Yup."

There were two versions of these responses. One utilized punctuation at the end of the affirmative reply while the other did not. The exchanges that did not have punctuation were deemed more sincere than the messages with punctuation, according to Klin.

"Punctuation is used and understood by texters to convey emotions and other social and pragmatic information," Klin said. "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."