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This one texting habit is a sign of insincerity, according to science

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Anna Pollitt
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Science's hobby of trolling paranoid millennials may have just peaked with a new study that scrutinises the hidden meaning behind punctuation in text messages.

Following gems such as What your Facebook status says about you, People send angrier tweets from their phones and Posting inspirational quotes linked to lower levels of intelligence, psychologists have concluded that ending text messages with a full stop comes across as insincere.

As well as being bad news for grammar sticklers, the State University of New York at Binghamton research suggests that we should end texts on a jaunty exclamation mark to seem like good eggs.

texting

For the study, researchers gathered 126 university students and analysed them over-analysing their texts. In an apparent attempt to kill off the full stop, they concluded that what people say in phone messages matters less than how they punctuate them.

"Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations," study leader Celia Klin explains in journal Computers in Human Behavior. "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."

While over-thinking texts was once the preserve of new couples (will three kisses make it weird? How creepy is the winky emoticon?) science would have us believe that no one takes digital missives at face value.

The question now is whether someone mistaking a full stop for fakeness is better than ending texts like this!

phone

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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at Stylist.co.uk, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant. The baby is borrowed.

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