Your text messages might have hidden meanings whether you know it or not. For instance, a new study claims that ending your text messages with a period can appear as heartless, even if you’re just trying to use proper punctuation. Who uses punctuations anymore in text messages? Isn’t there an emoji for that?

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Research from the University of Binghampton found that text messages ending with full stops (periods) were perceived to be insincere or fake. In all, 126 undergraduates were tested, The Telegraph reports. It turns out that for many texters, using periods conveys annoyance rather than a high respect for grammar.

“I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce ‘I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded,” journalist Ben Crair wrote in a story published in New Republic in 2013. That empirical investigation led to the new study that looked into this particular texting habit.

Looking back at my texting habits, I have to say I rarely use periods but do rely on other punctuation marks and emojis to get my message across. As for received messages, I can’t say whether I’ve noticed anyone (ab)using full stops, or using them to send certain passive-aggressive subliminal messages.

The same research also found that exclamation marks are more friendly and sincere than no punctuation at all.

The Telegraph further notes that a study by TalkTalk Mobile revealed that you should always match kiss for kiss in text conversations with significant others. Sending fewer or more digital kisses compared to your partner is considered either a brush-off or desperate, respectively.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow discovered that answering emails immediately indicates the sender is stressed or has low self-esteem. The same findings might be applied to text messaging too, though some texts are urgent and need to be answered almost immediately.

As for emoji, linguistic scholar Tylor Schnoebelen wrote in a Stanford Ph.D. thesis on emoji use that only older people have noses in their smiley faces. Furthermore, people who put a nose when drawing a smiley face with punctuation marks – like this: :) vs. :-) – tend to use fewer abbreviations like “lol.” He also found that emoji etiquette dictates that emoji are used at the end of sentences – like punctuation – rather than in mid-thought.

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