It's official. If you end a text message with a full stop, you're a terrible person – at least according to a new study into how people interact with technology.
Turns out people who send grammatically correct text messages ending in a period are seen as less sincere than those who leave their messages open-ended.
The study from the US and published in Computers and Human Behaviour had 126 undergraduates study a series of exchanges as either text messages or handwritten notes.
"The rapid pace of texting mimics face-to-face communication, leading to the question of whether the critical non-verbal aspects of conversation, such as tone, are expressed in computer-mediated communication," the authors say.
When the exchanges were presented as text message conversations, those which ended in a full stop were perceived as less sincere than those which did not end with punctuation.
No difference was found with the hand-written notes.
The researchers say the result shows the full stop isn't simply about being grammatically correct in communications, it has taken on a psychological meaning.
In a follow up study, yet to be published, it suggests exclamation points make a message seem more sincere than no punctuation at all.
Lead researcher Celia Klin, from Binghamton University, says electronic forms of communication lack the social cues people normally pick up on in face-to-face interactions such as facial expressions, tone of voice and pauses.
"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."