Face to face communication uses multi-modal behavioral cues (e.g., tone of voice and facial expression) that are available to facilitate accurate interpretation of intentions. However, when conversations are computer-mediated (e.g., texting), the use of these cues become limited. With this multi-modal behavioral cue limitation, the likelihood of a miscommunication increases. With a look at recent research, there has been an indication that vocal tone, through text, may be expressed through the use of punctuation (e.g., “Sure.” = rude or insincere; Gunraj et al., 2016. It is currently less well known how punctuation impacts the receiver's emotional experience with a "rude" texter. Therefore, we evaluated how receivers of emotionally valenced texts, would respond. To test this, we used behavioral and psycho-linguistic methods to evaluate the effect of emotional contagion on participants. We were specifically interested to see if receivers matched or aligned their responses to match the emotional valence of a positive or negative sender of a text. Specifically, if a receiver was sent a rude text, would she then respond rudely? What is interesting, is that receivers were more likely to respond positively over all -- regardless of the texter valence. Indicating the receiver attempted to decrease social distance by choosing a divergent emotional response - but only when the texter was perceived as rude.
Dr. Jennifer Roche
Face to face communication uses multimodal behavioral cues (e.g., tone of voice and facial expression) that are available to facilitate accurate interpretation of intentions. Unfortunately, these cues are limited with involvement in computer-mediated communication (e.g., texting). In recent research, it has been indicated that vocal tone in text, may be expressed through the use of punctuation (Gunraj et al., 2016). It is currently less well known how punctuation impacts a receiver's emotional experience with a "rude" or "kind" texter. Results here indicated that receivers tended to avoid contentious communicative interactions by diverging emotionally, but promote the positive interaction by converging emotionally. This is interesting because it provides insight into the emotional contagion literature, that is maximal convergence is not always useful.