If Cupid’s arrow has hit you finally, it is still better to express your feelings via an e-mail than leaving a voice message or a WhatsApp post with the girl you are in love with, says an interesting study.
According to researchers from Indiana University (IU), in this digital age, an email can be more effective in expressing romantic feelings than other platforms.
“The bottom line is that email is much better when you want to convey some information that you want someone to think about,” said Alan R Dennis, from IU’s Kelley School of Business.
Using psycho-physiological measures from 72 college-age people, Dennis and co-author Taylor M. Wells found that people who sent romantic emails were more emotionally aroused and used stronger and more thoughtful language than those who left voicemails.
“When writing romantic emails, senders consciously or subconsciously added more positive content to their messages, perhaps to compensate for the medium’s inability to convey vocal tone,” Dennis and Wells wrote.
Email enables senders to modify the content as messages are composed to ensure they are crafted to the needs of the situation.
Voicemail lacks this feature.
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A sender records a voicemail in a single take, and it can be sent or discarded and re-recorded, but not edited.
“Thus, senders engage with email messages longer and may think about the task more deeply than when leaving voicemails. This extra processing may increase arousal,” the authors noted.
Previous research had suggested that email and text chat are considered poor for communicating emotion.
The study also demonstrated that the medium used can shape the content of the message. Senders of utilitarian messages sent less positive emails than voicemails for the same communication task.
However, when composing romantic messages, senders included the most positive and most arousing emotional content in emails and the least positive and least arousing emotional content in voicemails.
These findings, however, do not suggest that face-to-face meetings, personal phone calls and other direct forms of communications aren’t as useful.
The research has been accepted for publication in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.