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Use of punctuations depicts the sincerity of text

So you think you are good at texting? Wait! Have you checked upon your punctuations in that case?

Well, a new study emphasizes on the use of punctuations, saying, the way one punctuate their text messages reveals how sincere one is in communication.

Text messages that end with a period are perceived to be less sincere than messages that do not, said the study from Binghamton University in New York.

“Punctuation is used and understood by texters to convey emotions and other social and pragmatic information. It’s not surprising that as texting evolves, people are finding ways to convey the same types of information in their texts,” said lead researcher Celia Klin.

The researchers recruited 126 undergraduates for this project, who read a series of exchanges that appeared either as text messages or as handwritten notes.

In all round 16 experimental exchanges, it was noted that the sender’s message contained a statement followed by an invitation phrased as a question (eg., Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?).

To that the receiver’s response was an affirmative one-word response (Okay, Sure, Yeah, Yup).

There were two versions of each experimental exchange: one in which the receiver’s response ended with a period and one in which it did not end with any punctuation.

On the basis of participants’ responses, text messages that ended with a period were rated as less sincere than text messages that did not end with a period.

According to Klin, these results firmly highlights that punctuation influences the perceived meaning of text messages.

Although most of the important social and contextual cues were missing, the sincerity of the short messages was evaluated differently depending on the presence or absence of a period.

“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,” she explained.

In some very recent follow-up work, Klin’s team found that a text response with an exclamation mark is interpreted as more, rather than less, sincere.

The study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour.

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