A Washington Post article doesn't hold back in interpreting a Binghamton University study. Published in Computers in Human Behavior, the study compared receivers' reactions to periods used in handwritten and text messages:
We ask whether punctuation-specifically, the period-may serve as a cue for pragmatic and social information. Participants read short exchanges in which the response either did or did not include a sentence-final period. When the exchanges appeared as text messages, the responses that ended with a period were rated as less sincere than those that did not end with a period. No such difference was found for handwritten notes. We conclude that punctuation is one cue used by senders, and understood by receivers, to convey pragmatic and social information.
The text period has come up before in BizCom in the News. A Mashable article quoted a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania:
"In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all. In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And what they infer, plausibly enough, is something like 'This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it.'"
The Binghamton University study proves it.
- How did we get here-where our smallest punctuation mark has taken on such grave meaning?
- What's your view of the "k" in texts? Do you share the criticism?