Everyone has that friend who's delightful in person, but seems cold and off-putting in text conversations. Did that "Sure." mean she really wanted to catch a movie tonight, or is she being passive aggressive? It seems totally irrational, but the way you punctuate your texts has a major effect on how people view your personality. Science has even proven it.
In a December 2015 study published in Computers in Human Behavior, researchers found that people who send texts that end in periods are viewed as less sincere than people who leave out the punctuation. Researchers at Binghamton University recruited 126 college students to read a series of texts or handwritten notes. The exchanges involved one person inviting a friend to an event, and the other giving a one-word response, like "Okay," "Sure," "Yeah," and "Yup." That one word sometimes had a period after it, and sometimes didn't.
The results aren't surprising for anyone who reads too much into vague texts. And in a follow-up study, participants rated texts that ended in exclamation marks as even more sincere than those that contained no ending punctuation. Handwritten notes didn't have the same effect as texts, showing that this is definitely a 21st century problem.
"Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations," lead researcher Celia Kin said in a statement. "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 if you want to be seen as nice and fun, just say "Suuuure!" and add a million emojis. Otherwise, you're running the risk of people thinking you're a "horrible" human being. 😉