Before sending their next text message, students may want to re-evaluate the punctuation at the end of their sentences.
A Binghamton University study published last month highlighted the different ways text senders and receivers view periods at the end of a message. According to the study, the little dot may come off as insincere rather than grammatical.
The study was inspired by former Binghamton undergraduate research assistant Erica Dashow, who said she thought of the impact of periods when thinking of ways to make her text messages shorter and straighter to the point.
“The first time I thought about something like this was when I didn’t have unlimited texting, so I was trying to make every word count,” she said.
As the population of texters worldwide grows, people are thinking of new ways to convey messages, according to corresponding author on the study and Binghamton psychology assistant professor Celia Klin.
Instead of using words, people often send messages through emoticons, she said.
“In a face-to-face conversation, people have gestures and pauses, but with texting it’s hard to convey emotions beyond words the same way,” Klin said.
Usually, people associate long sentences and periods with formal papers, and short, abbreviated sentences with messaging, said Lucas Youngvorst, a second-year communication studies graduate student at the University of Minnesota.
Still, the tone of a text can change depending on the sender-receiver relationship, he said.
“The texts you send to your coworker or boss are definitely different than those you send to your friend or romantic partner,” Youngvorst said.
Despite a negative connotation, the study authors aren’t advocating for the death of the period.
“This study will influence people by allowing them to become more critical and cautious in the ways they use periods while texting,” Dashow said.
Youngvorst said he thinks people will look more closely at the way they text or run their own similar experiments.
This week, Klin’s follow-up study on exclamation points will be published. She said results showed exclamation points, unlike the period, convey sincerity.