Ending your texts with a period is truly monstrous. Grammar be darned, it just doesn’t look friendly.
Now a study has confirmed it. Researchers led by Binghamton University’s Celia Klin report that text messages ending with a period are perceived as being less sincere.
“Text messaging is one of the most frequently used computer-mediated communication (CMC) methods. The rapid pace of texting mimics face-to-face communication, leading to the question of whether the critical non-verbal aspects of conversation, such as tone, are expressed in CMC,” the researchers write in the study, which was published recently in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
To test whether the period had become a social cue within the context of CMC, the researchers presented a small group (126 undergraduates — not representative of the global population, but fairly representative of the most prolific texters) with exchanges framed as either texts or handwritten notes.
The experimental messages featured an invitation followed by a brief reply. When that reply was followed by a period, subjects rated the response as less sincere than when no punctuation was used. The effect wasn’t present in handwritten notes.
According to Klin and her fellow researchers, that’s an indication the text-message period has taken on a life of its own. It is no longer just the correct way to end a sentence. It’s an act of psychological warfare against your friends. In follow-up research that hasn’t yet been published, they saw signs that exclamation points may make your messages seem more sincere than no punctuation at all.
“Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations,” Klin said. “... 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.”
So take heed: If you insist on grammatical correctness, you may suffer consequences.