Have you ever felt like the text or message you’re receiving feels like a lie, but you have no way of confirming or refuting it, since you have no idea what the sender’s disposition is when they sent it? Well, you probably can’t use this as proof or as an excuse, but a research project conducted by psychology professors and students concluded that messages that ended with a period are actually not as sincere as we usually think.
The research was led by Celia Klin, an associate professor of psychology and an associate dean at Binghamton Harpur College. They got 126 undergraduates to read a series of exchanges, which are either text messages or handwritten notes, with several experimental exchanges. Some had periods, some didn’t have punctuation marks at all. The conclusion from the study is that the perception on the messages that have period were rated as less sincere that those that didn’t have one.
Klin says that this shows how punctuation influences perceived meaning of text messages, regardless of whether or not there were contextual or social cues. The short messages especially were judged on whether they were sincere by lack or presence of a period. Of course this was a simple study conducted on a small number of students, and so it is hard to make concrete conclusions.
Klin emphasizes that since text messaging lacks the many social cues we expect from actual face to face interaction, we rely then on the non-verbal cues, such as punctuation, when evaluating the content of said messages. It is important to study these things since “punctuation is used and understood by texters to convey emotions and other social and pragmatic information,” said Klin.