Everyone who's ever tapped a touchscreen knows that putting a period at the end of a one-word text message, like "OK." or "Yeah." or "Fine," is a surefire way to come off as complete asshat -- whether it's intentional or not. While some may argue it's a matter of being concise and using good grammar, new research has now confirmed that the punctuation actually does come off as, well, pointed as you suspected. Cool.
In a new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, researchers at Binghamton University found that ending text messages with periods will likely result in the recipients perceiving you as insincere, according to a report by The Washington Post.
The team of experts, led by associate professor of psychology Celia Klin, surveyed 126 undergraduate students at the school after reading a series of 16 experimental conversations via text message or handwritten notes. The exchanges involved a statement and invitation from a sender such as "Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?" followed by an affirmative one-word response from the receiver (like Sure, Yeah, or Yup), with one version ending with a period and one ending with no punctuation. In the end, the students rated messages ending with a period as less sincere.
Additionally, a follow-up study conducted by the team found that texts that end with an exclamation point are perceived as more sincere. But then again, who would ever question the sincerity of texts like "I want pizza!" or "Stop talking to me!" or "YAAAASSSS!"
"Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations," Klin said in a statement. "When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses, and so on. 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."
Well, that's certainly something to keep in mind next time you're self-consciously typing and retyping a text. Don't come off as a damn monster. Don't add a period. K.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and almost always ends his text messages with a period because it's just good punctuation. Deal with it. Send news tips to email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.