It all boils down to the magic of well thought-out, carefully written—or in this sense, typed—words.

A recent study has found that, compared with voicemail, written emails seem to be more effective in relaying messages that convey romantic feelings.

Researchers from Indiana University conducted an experiment among 72 college-age participants to compare between the effects of conveying romantic messages through email and voicemail. Contrary to previous studies and the conventional belief that voicemail messaging projects more intimate ways of romantically connecting with someone, the researchers found that emails are the more effective means of romantically communicating.

Findings of this study, which is the first known research to look at responses to email messages through physiological measures, are now accepted for publication in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

In the experiment, the researchers placed sensors on the skin of the participants to measure and analyze muscle movements that are associated with either positive or negative emotions. To measure arousal, the researchers also placed sensors on the participants' feet. The participants were asked to randomly do email or voicemail and were asked to create a romantic message or a utilitarian message first.

"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, the John T. Chambers Chair of Internet Systems at the university's Kelley School of Business, who is also a co-author of the study.

In their findings, Dennis and his co-author Taylor M. Wells, a management information systems assistant professor at the California State University-Sacramento, noted how an email's lack of a vocal tone allows senders to consciously or subconsciously make the effort to add more positive messages to their romantic emails.

"Email enables senders to modify the content as messages are composed to ensure they are crafted to the needs of the situation," the researchers wrote. Voicemail, on the other hand, does not have this feature. A voicemail can be re-recorded, but not edited, unlike an email. Because an email is crafted longer than a voicemail is, senders have more time to "think about the task more deeply," therefore increasing the arousal level. In fact, whether the messages were romantic or utilitarian, the psycho-physiological responses showed that the participants became more aroused with emails than voicemail.

Researchers have also looked into the role of social media communications in romance and relationships. A 2011 study found that posting on social media could have marked effects on jealousy and relationship happiness. The effects were particularly prominent in low self-esteem individuals. These individuals often created an idealized picture of a relationship and zealously guarded their relationships from any undesirable information.

Another study conducted in 2014 found that the effect of technology, social media and electronic communication could vary widely from couple to couple: 74 percent of the respondents said that they were able to take advantage of technology and electronic communication to facilitate the growth of their relationships.

As technology continues to evolve and change, it influences certain aspects of human life, including romance and relationships. Some experts may back the media naturalness theory, which suggests that communication becomes less natural and less efective the farther we move from face-to-face interaction. However, these studies show that human interpersonal relationships are also evolving to match current trends in online communication.

Photo: Johan Viirok | Flickr

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.