Category Archives: Research Summary

Zap In Your Memories

By Daniella Lee

We hold our memories near and dear to our heart, but what if those same memories are just an episode from Full House? Earlier this week, we talked about the theory of prosthetic memory. This theory states that humans substitute memories or ideas they have seen in media entertainment in place of memories from their own reality. Now before you freak out and cause an early mid-life crisis because your whole life as you remember it is a lie, the concept of prosthetic memories provides an opportunity to re-examine the development of your personality. If you still think you were raised by three men and blurted out phrases like “how rude” when you didn’t get your way, then you might need an intervention (possibly with corny music in the background).

Prosthetic memories may force some harsh realizations about your childhood, but the media doesn’t have total control of your brain, yet. Scientists are discovering new ways to make memories, ones that don’t involve the media. Researcher Jan Born and colleagues from the University of Lubeck in Germany studied the different stages of sleep. The deepest stage of sleep, known as slow-wave, plays an important role in memory consolidation. This is the stage when information, or memories, get stored into the brain. In his study, Born set out to improve these memories by electrically stimulating the brain.

During the study, a group of medical students were given a list of words to memorize. On one of the several nights they would receive an electric shock. Born attached electrodes to the students’ heads. delivering a low-frequency, low-voltage electric shock while they slept. The stimulation that occurred forced the brain into slow-wave sleep. The following night, the students were given another list of words to memorize and put to bed without getting zapped.

The students remembered more words from the list the night they received the electrode shock. Born concluded that inducing slow-wave sleep could help to consolidate memories. In a typical night, humans only spend 20 minutes in this stage of sleep. Slow-wave sleep plays a vital role in strengthening our bones, muscles, immune systems and memories. Obviously falling into this deep sleep is important for the body, yet it’s so difficult to reach this stage. Born’s electric brain stimulation might not only help our memorization, but being able to reach slow-wave sleep can provide benefit to a healthy, longer life.

Born’s findings open the door to more research on slow-wave sleep and memory retention. If we start zapping ourselves into a deep sleep we can keep our real memories and stop using the media’s storyline for our life. If you still think you’re related Uncle Jesse, then we might need to up the voltage on that electric current and keep you dreaming for a while… possibly forever.

“Restoring Slow Wave Sleep Shown To Enhance Health and Increase Lifespan”
by: Jim English
Nutrition Review, 2010

“Boosting Slow Oscillations During Sleep Potentiates Memory”
by: Jan Born, Lisa Marshall, Halla Helgadóttir and Matthias Mölle
Nature 444, 610-613


It’s More Than a Movie: Prosthetic Memories

By Lizzy Sebuck

Have you ever wandered off into a day dream during class? Oh, no, no, no! Not YOU, you studious student, you, but surely you’ve heard of this happening to others. What happens when you reflect? Do you think about your dog? Your family? Your journey from adolescence to adulthood? The accomplishments you’ve made and what you have left to overcome? Are you sure you’re not just thinking about the plot to Homeward Bound?

The Theory of Prosthetic Memory states that humans often substitute memories or ideas they have seen in media entertainment in place of memories from their own reality. In Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture the argument is made that modernity makes new forms of public cultural memory possible. Alison Landsberg, the theorist behind prosthetic memory, reviews the effects that mass media, marketing, and visual art can have on a person. Landsberg’s point is that when you observe visual media, the short-term effects may be the shedding of a few tears or leaving  the theater joyful from comedy, but the long-term effects are as complex as the shaping of character and personal development in the individual viewer. Think about it: your growing appreciation and respect for your elders could be a deeply-rooted instinct you picked up from watching Chance, Sassy, and Shadow work it out from way back when.

“Prosthetic memories are adopted as the result of a person’s experience with a mass cultural technology of memory that dramatizes or recreates a history that he or she did not live” (Landsberg, 29).

The development of graphic design technology and the enhancement of visual effects has played an enormous role in aiding the cinematic experience to make movie-watching more realistic than ever. It’s the development of these cinematic advances that helps audiences gather a thorough understanding of the themes and emotion in films. The almost touchable reality that James Cameron created through the introduction of new 3D visual imaging in the widely famous Avatar has affected audiences so intensely that in some it has brought on a new level of film inspired depression because the colorful wonderland depicted in Avatar does not actually exist.

Landsberg suggests that the technologies of mass media not only change the concept of an authentic experience to the individual audience member (48), but also the vividness of the film and the created alternate realities achieved through technology creates a “suspension of disbelief and identification with the protagonist” which might affect [audiences] so significantly that the images would actually become part of their own archive of experience” (30). Essentially, Landsberg is saying that audiences adopt memories and experiences because of the alternate realities they see on the screen, then convert them into their own authentic memories.

The notion of the Prosthetic Memory brings on a slew of unsettling thoughts. Prosthetic Memories make us ask ourselves questions such as “What is real?”, “Which of my memories are real?”. This concept of Prosthetic Memory gives humans a reason to re-evaluate the development of their own personalities. Memories shape the person that we become with age. Memories based off visual media can stem from viewing all types of media. This includes films, Vlogs, YouTube clips, and Vimeos we’ve seen and the visual concepts that have affected us. Is this why some have become so obsessed with Hollywood love? Is this why so many young men and women turn into such hopeless romantics in the pursuit of happiness? Those who were raised on Breakfast at Tiffany’s generally swoon at films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and (500) Days of Summer and whisper to themselves “why not me?”. Have these prosthetic memories left audiences with an idea of what love is supposed to be versus what it actually is?

More so, consider horror and scary movie genres. The reason that so many of our twenty-something peers still sleep with their bedroom doors locked may be because of a cultured notion  they were raised on. We have been cultured to believe through the Scream series that someone is going to burst into our rooms in the middle of the night and murder us! Thanks a lot Prosthetic Memory & Nev Campbell, thanks a-freaking-lot.

Prosthetic Memories are able to shape personality, morals, and character even though they’re not real. Visual memories we obtain through film and popular culture in our youth are repressed and stay with us throughout our adult development, forming our passions, fears, and aspirations. Audiences identify with the characters they see on the silver screen and envision themselves as the hero or heroine; they take on their hardships as if they were their own. Here are the hard facts:

1: Chances are the guy from Scream is not gonna pop into your room tonight and bust out a can of whoop-ass.
2: There is no way Jim Carrey is that sweet in real life. You can be hopeful that Joel Barish is out there somewhere, but don’t hold your breath for some guy who will go through reverse memory erasing for your love.
3: No, Jack from Titanic didn’t make it, but whether you want to believe it or not, he was never your real-life lover and you really have no reason to keep crying about it 13 years later. We know through Prosthetic Memory that you really felt it with the words “I’ll never let go”, but really, it’s time.


Cinephile: The University of British Columbia’s Film Journal

Psychology Today

Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture
by Alison Landsberg, 1993, pg29-50

The Sunshine Vitamin

By Katie Gangloff

Feel the winter blues creeping up? Most of us are aware of the physical and mental numbing of the winter cold. The sun doesn’t shine as long as it does in warmer months. To escape the cold we spend most of our time hibernating indoors snuggled up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and the first season of Glee. Studies show that we should be getting as much sunlight as possible during winter months because the sun doesn’t shine as long and isn’t as warm as it is in June and July. Having sufficient levels of Vitamin D can prevent depression, muscle and bone weakness, certain types of cancer, and much more. Kennel, Drake, and Hurley find that many people are Vitamin D deficient and may not even know it. Adequate levels of Vitamin D are measured from the 25-hydroxyvitamin D, (also known as 25(OH)D), concentration in the blood.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the percentage of adults achieving vitamin D sufficiency as defined by 25(OH)D of as least 30 ng/mL [nanograms per milliliter] has declined from about 60% in 1988-1994 to approximately 30% in 2001-2004 in whites and from about 10% to approximately 5% in African Americans during this same time.”

First of all, what is Vitamin D? It’s not technically a vitamin, but an extremely powerful steroid hormone in our bodies. The easiest (and free) way to obtain Vitamin D is via sun exposure. way. Cholesterol is absorbed by your skin and eventually converted into Vitamin D by the liver. The only way to get it is from the sun, not through food. The cholesterol in the skin is gradually lost as our bodies age, which in turn creates an inability to synthesize the Vitamin D.

Another way to gain the essential ‘vitamin’ is through a supplement. “Since 1997, the Food and Nutrition Board has advised an AI [all individuals] of Vitamin D of 200 to 600 IU/d[International Units].” In relation to other medicines, this is like taking two Tylenol for a headache, only this stuff is much better. This dosage was recommended to be taken and used to fortify foods.

What do you do if you have a Vitamin D deficiency? By taking a “loading dose” you can jump start the production of Vitamin D in your body. A loading dose is almost like pumping a whole butt load of adrenaline or steroids at one time in order to get a better result in the end. One way to load a dose is to take 50,000 IU (or 1.25 milligrams) of Vitamin D once weekly for a designated amount of time prescribed by your doctor. Of course Vitamin D comes in a variety of doses, from 200 IU up to 5000 IU. Below are a few reasons why you should care about your Vitamin D level.

Kennel, Drake, and Hurley suggest that having enough Vitamin D can prevent the following:

  • rickets
  • 17 types of cancer including pancreatic, colon/rectal, stomach, prostate, lung, breast, bladder, uterine, espousal, kidney, ovarian, multiple melanoma, non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, and leukemia
  • lower blood pressure
  • improve immune system function (prevents colds and flu), autoimmune function, inflammation
  • multiple sclerosis
  • autism
  • allergies
  • preeclampsia
  • both type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • depression
  • muscle and bone weakness
  • generalized pain

A common misconception is that Vitamin D will ‘cure’ all of the above, but really if you had sufficient levels of Vitamin D most of these things wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

“So Vitamin D simply allows our bodies to work the way they were designed to “

Now, you’re thinking, “how am I supposed to get sun when the days are becoming shorter and shorter?” A few suggestions include to take a walk during your lunch break, stand in the sun so your face is exposed, take supplements, and definitely talk to your doctor to find out if you are Vitamin D deficient. For those of you that hit the tanning beds, you’ll get your Vitamin D fix but be weary of the side-affects. Ever heard of skin cancer? Play it safe and stick to supplements.

We are reading your mind once again, why should you care if you’re getting enough Vitamin D? The benefits are tremendous, Vitamin D can keep you healthy, strong, alive longer, and overall happier. And who doesn’t want to be happier?

Kennel, Kurt A., Matthew T. Drake, and Daniel L. Hurley. “Vitamin D Deficiency in Adults: When to Test and How to Treat.” Mayo Clinic. 85.8 (2010): 752-758.

Turn It Up and Cheer Up

by Peter Muller

Most people who can hear (and some who can’t) have an important relationship with music. Some listen passively to that damn Muzak on the elevator while others obsessively dig through crates of vinyl and overload their computers collecting it. Either way, music is a part of every one’s lives. White Apple earbuds dangling from ears have become as socially ubiquitous as wearing sunglasses or carrying a purse. Hipster mustaches only dream of such market penetration.

When artists create music as self-expression, it’s often tied to heavy emotional states. Although there is no denying the existence of emotion in music, a common dispute between music researchers has been how it affects the listener. Anyone who listens to music knows the feelings of joy or excitement that comes with hearing a familiar upbeat song or the calming effect of a slower chill tune. The question raised by researchers is whether or not that feeling comes from the music changing the listeners’ actual emotional state, or just their perception of the artist’s emotion in the music.

That‘s exactly what a group of researchers from Sweden’s Örebro and Uppsala Universities set out to discover. Both sides of the argument had been supported in previous studies because variables that serve as identifiers of emotion were not standardized throughout the field of study. Some of the studies used only surveys, which were flawed because a listener couldn’t consciously understand where their emotions stemmed from. Others used popular music samples in their tests and read involuntary reactions, making it unclear whether the reactions came from the tone of the music, or the listener’s memories associated with a particular song.

To get a more accurate reading, the Swedish researchers picked the tests from old studies which had previously yielded the most reliable results, combining them into one standardized measurement. Using listener surveys and electronic tests for autonomic responses (facial expression, heart rate, skin conductance and temperature), the researchers developed the most accurate reading of emotional origin to date.

32 subjects (16 male, 16 female) listened to music through headphones, during which they were surveyed on emotional state and tested electronically for the autonomic responses.

“The stimuli consisted of simple pop songs in a singer-songwriter style sung and performed on the acoustic guitar. One happy song and one sad song each were performed by a male and a female singer, yielding a total of four musical performances… we decided to use lyrics in English that were neutral in character (no emotion words were allowed)”.

In the end, the findings pointed to clear evidence that music does, in fact, alter the emotional state of its listeners. Happy music genuinely made the subjects happy and sad music bummed them out, regardless of gender. That’s good information to know given the recent election results, we’ll need lots of Jackie Wilson and Feist to get through the next 2 years.

Take a look at our good friend Tom above. Would you say he looks happy? Sad? Indifferent? Possibly angry? That could depend on what you’ve been listening to lately. In a related study, a group of researchers at the University of London have linked musical tone to the way people perceive the emotions of others. Given the fact that music and facial expressions both convey clear emotion, the researchers wanted to see if one could influence the other. In the study, subjects listened to short clips of music classified as “happy” or “sad” while viewing photos of people with happy, sad, and neutral facial expressions. The results were quite significant. A person listening to happy music obviously identified the happy faces, but also attributed happiness to the neutral faces and even some of the sad faces! The opposite was true for sad music. Maybe Tom would cheer up if he lightened up his music a little?

Last week we looked at Emotional Intelligence and its effect on others around you (e.g., the workplace, relationships). How you feel can affect everything in your life, and everything in your life can effect how you feel. Knowing that music has such a strong effect on your emotions, you can use it to pick yourself up when you’re feeling blue, or calm yourself down when you’re pissed. Music is used to control our emotions all the time. Stores play music that makes us want to shop, political candidates and sporting events rev their audiences up with fight songs, and spas play that sleepy slow stuff for a reason. Pop in those white earbuds and see where your playlist takes you today.

Emotional Responses To Music: Experience, Expression, and Physiology
by: Lars-Olov Lundqvist, Fredrik Carlsson, Per Hilmersson, & Patrik N. Juslin
Örebro University, Uppsala University, Sweden
Psychology of Music 2009 37: 61

Crossmodal Transfer Of Emotion By Music
by: Nidhya Logeswaran & Joydeep Bhattacharya
Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London, United Kingdom
Neuroscience Letters 455 (2009) 129–133

Emotional Intelligence: How Developing Your EI can Help You In and Out of the Bedroom

by Lizzy Sebuck

Getting in touch with your feelings won’t just give you an edge in the workplace, but improving your emotional intelligence can help your relationships and your more intimate moments too! Is your girlfriend saying you just don’t understand the way she feels? You jerk! Guys, you don’t need to sit down with a season of Sex in the City to get in touch with your feelings. Ladies, step away from the Braveheart DVD, there’s another way! Today at Occam’s Taser we’re here to educate men and women alike on how to express your feelings and emotions to your partner. This will allow for a stronger chance that your significant other will actually pay more attention to what you’re saying and less to distractions. Men have trouble interpreting the subliminal messages that women send through gestures and facial expressions, while women struggle to extract and understand emotions from their man. Strengthening your emotional intelligence can benefit your intimate relationships through increasing empathy and understanding, and can potentially lead you to find more compatible mates in the future.


Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, right? Wrong. We’re not actually from different planets (although at times it may seem that way). Researchers cite that men and women have different cognitive processes of the brain that cause them to interpret and demonstrate emotions differently. Generally, women have a stronger emotional intelligence quotient than men because women are seemingly more in touch with their feelings. Emotional Intelligence, or lack thereof, can lead to lack of communication in the relationship. Emotions tend to remain uncovered and sometimes never discussed. So why do guys have a harder time getting in touch with their emotions? Some research says that its biological.

“Men are hard-wired differently,” says David Powell, PhD, president of the International Center for Health Concerns, who explains that the connection between the left brain, home of logic, and the right, the seat of emotions, is much greater in women”… “Women have the equivalent of an interstate highway, so they move readily between the right and left brains. For men the connection is like a meandering country lane, so we don’t have such ready access to feelings.”

The first step is admitting you have a problem, fellas. As soon as you accept and acknowledge the possibility that your girl might be right about your stone cold silence, you can learn to open up and express just how pissed you are that she ate that last slice of pizza.


Sorry girls, just because you might have a higher level of EI don’t think you’re off the hook. Women generally broadcast their emotions whenever they feel like expressing them. While women do have a stronger, higher emotional intelligence than men, they don’t always express this emotional intellect in the most productive way.

Women don’t need a study or a blog to tell them that talking about their problems will make them feel better. No shit. However, in communicating and expressing your emotional intelligence with your man, its a two-way road. You may want to talk about your feelings til the sun comes up (aw), but you can’t force your guy to feel the same way. A part of the reason men and women have a hard time understanding one another is not only because of differing emotional intelligence quotient levels, but also because they communicate very differently.
When men decide to express their emotions they get to the point. Men are very literal in their speech and make sure to quickly state the issue. Women tend to be less point-blank, as they generally sensationalize conflict in relationships, while in the process losing their audience in conveying emotion. This can lead to a woman’s voice turning into the droning Charlie Brown teacher your male counterpart may otherwise hear when you speak. Try to take the opportunity to let your significant other talk, in the event that he does have something he wants to share. Listening is key in a mutually exclusive relationship. Even women have room for improvement when it comes to assessing emotions, but the first step is allowing those emotions from others to be expressed in the first place, so try to listen and allow for both parties to express their feelings.

There’s more than a few positive aspects to having highly developed emotional intelligence. Yes, your relationship will be stronger because of more communication and understanding. Yes, you may finally learn WHY your boyfriend shed a few tears during Field of Dreams. But the greatest benefit of them all is that studies actually show that having a higher emotional intelligence can lead to a better time in the bedroom. In a research study on emotional intelligence and sex, the results found a positive relationship between the female orgasm and high emotional intelligence.

“We found emotional intelligence to be positively correlated with both frequency of orgasm during intercourse … and masturbation …. Women in the lowest quartile of emotional intelligence had an approximate twofold increased risk of infrequent orgasm.”

Hallelujah. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Hallelujah. Note the negative side of this study though: “Low emotional intelligence seems to be a significant risk factor for low orgasmic frequency.” You know what that means? The research shows that having a low emotional intelligence may be the cause of fewer orgasms amongst women. Haven’t exactly experienced fireworks in the bedroom lately, ladies? It’s not just the guys here who have room for emotional intelligence improvement! The better emotionally connected you are to your partner, the more likely you will enjoy each other better in that intimate way.

Now, I’m no “Dr. Love” but I can tell you that communication is key for success in relationships. Developing your Emotional Intelligence Quotient can be accomplished in a few simple steps, and through this, better communication can be achieved. By improving your EQ, you will be better able to identify, assess, and control emotions and, from there, your relationships can significantly improve! First, learn what your Emotional Intelligence is by taking a simple test. From there, you can see the areas which you need improvement. Take note from your childhood crossing guard when it comes to love: Stop (and think about it), Look (and analyze your relationship), and LISTEN (to your partner). Your relationship will grow stronger, and hey, you may be able to test if the sex study is accurate. If you don’t want to listen to me, take a page from MensHealth:

“The moral of the story: when she talks, you listen (listen does not mean hearing her in the background. It means you are actually listening to what she has to say). This way she won’t have to keep repeating herself. But make sure that when you talk, she is also listening to you. Get it on!”

Big Boys Don’t Cry — and Other Myths About Men and Their Emotions:The truth about men, their emotions, and ways men can become more emotionally expressive.
Readers Digest: Dianne Hales
Love on the Line
Truity Williams
Emotional Intelligence and Its Association with Orgasmic Frequency in Women Journal of Sexual Medicine DOI: Burri, A., Cherkas, L., & Spector, T. (2009).
Women Who Talk Too Much

Keep In Touch With Your Emotions And Keep Your Job

By: Daniella Lee

In today’s job market, it’s hard to find work and even harder to keep it. The workplace can be so cut-throat that getting stabbed in the back happens as often as running out of post-its. Okay, so this may be a little far fetched but I’m sure there is an Omarosa near your cubicle. So what can you do to make sure you stand out from the other employees, like that crazy bitch in accounting? Make sure to pay attention to your emotions, and don’t let anyone mess with your paperwork.

Staying smart with your emotions has become a hot topic between your boss, management and the HR department. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to control your emotions and utilize them when working in groups toward a universal goal. Employers see this as a crucial skill. This interest comes from research stating that EI is a predictor in job performance, negotiations, leadership, trust, work-family conflict and stress (pretty much everything you need to survive a typical 9-to-5 job). A study conducted by Ernest H. Boyle, Ronald H. Humphrey and associates at the Virgina Commonwealth University specifically looked into the relationship between emotional intelligence and job performance.

What does it mean to be emotionally intelligent? Boyle and Humphrey pull from previous research to operationalize their definition of EI.

“The sets of abilities (verbal and nonverbal) that enable a person to generate, recognize, express, understand, and evaluate their own, and others, emotions in order to guide thinking and action that successfully cope with environmental demands and pressures.” (Rooy and Viswesvaran)

Boyle and Humphrey gathered data from 43 studies and performed a 3-part test to classify their findings. These series of tests, known as EI streams, measured EI and its effect on job performance. The first stream was a four-branch ability test which categorizes that EI into different branches. They were perception and expression of emotion, emotional facilitation of thinking, understanding and analyzing emotions and employing emotional knowledge. The second stream used a self-report measure to capture the emotions that employees were feeling the workplace. The final stream used to measure the data was a traditional test to measure social skills. These guys are thorough.

The EI streams measured the main concepts behind EI. Boyle and Humphrey’s main hypothesis in this study was to prove that all three EI streams are correlated with job performance. Each section of the test confirmed Boyle and Humphrey’s main hypothesis. “The three streams of EI research, ability measures, self- and peer-report measures, and mixed models, all predict job performance equally.”

The ability to control your emotions and understand those of your co-workers tends to result in better job performance and, more importantly, can help you dominate in the workplace. EI helps with group tasks, customer service, and those with a high level of EI can persuade the moods of others. (Boyle and Humphrey, 2010: 77). The next time you talk to that sucky co-worker with a bad attitude you can flip her mood if you’re an EI jedi.

Coping with the stress and pressure of a fast-paced career can make us or break us. The workforce is becoming more competitive and being able to stand out means brushing up on your EI. Employers are looking for people who can control their emotions and influence the emotions of others around them. EI can up your job performance and the next time you have to work on a project with that lady from accounting (she really is a total bitch) you’ll be able to get her to play nice.

The Relation Between Emotional Intelligence And Job Performance: A Meta-Analysis
By: Ernest H. O’Boyle Jr., Ronald H. Humphrey, Jeffrey M. Pollack, Thomas H. Hawver and Paul A. Story
Virginia Commonwealth University. Richmond, VA
Journal of Organizational Behavior 2010

Txt Talk Vs. Text Talk: What’s The Deal?

by Margo Ruter

Most of us still remember playing Snake on a Nokia, but there is a growing population of adolescents who have always known how to text. This “net generation” is the first to have completely grown up with the Internet and cell phones. While 47% of them can draft a text message blindfolded, members of other generations are skeptical about this hindering their future writing skills. These teens help send the 75 billion text messages that are sent per month in the United States. This could have various effects on the future of young texters. Either 4th graders around the country are going to start taking AP English, or the name Ke$ha will start to look grammatically correct. What’s all this texting doing to American English? Not a thing to auto-spell check, it still puts that red line under the word, “texting.”

Researchers at California State University had a similar question in mind when they sought out to discover just how so much texting affects both formal and informal facets of writing. Taking two separate study groups, researchers reviewed both formal and informal writing samples from individuals in Los Angeles. The demographics of the sample group were similar to the ethnic backgrounds and education levels of the L.A. area.

Both formal and informal writing samples were taken from each group and graded on a scale from 1 to 6. Ratings from 1 to 1.5 were considered short, non-responsive answers were removed from the sample. Only responses that rated between 2 and 6 were used in the study.

The main hypothesis of the study was that “there would be a significant positive relationship between reported textism use in daily electronic communication and informal writing, and a negative correlation with the quality of formal writing.” A related research question dealt with whether these relationships were based on education level or writing medium.

The writing samples were thoroughly studied and analyzed. Researchers looked at every detail of the writing including things like:
-lowercase “i”
-use of acronyms
-lack of apostrophes
-shortened words
-smilies 🙂 and emoticons
After highlighting these elements, they totaled the number of linguistic and contextual textisms and also looked at the individuals’ monthly cell phone and text message use.

One major finding of the research states that women use nearly twice as many shorthand textisms in electronic communication as men. Explaining why this happened is beyond the scope of the research, but we could bet that the researchers are losing a little bit of sleep over it. Does it have to do with classic cognitive differences between genders? Is it purely a communicative trait specific to respective gender? I’m sure we’ll find out in a few years.

The bottom line is that more texting and shorthand writing in electronic communication related to worse formal writing and better informal writing. So instead of this leading to the ultimate death of prose, Rosen et al., suggest this could mean the growth of a new type of writing in the English language. This is good news for Creative Writing teachers, but bad news for English teachers.

What the article didn’t address was the issue of spelling. This was a huge oversight if you ask us, but no one did. How are words such as “2nite” and “thnx” going to be spelled in five years?

You might also be thinking, “Yeah, well I text like that because I’m in a hurry.” Right, but some people actually communicate with one another this way:

Taken from my personal news feed on Facebook, this is case-in-point displaying the dangerous road our language might be taking in the wake of electronic communication.

You might have cringed at that terrible display of communication, but you might think next time you write “lol” when you have nothing else to say. Formal language skills are crucial in professional careers and we sure as hell don’t want people like this writing project plans, press releases, resumes, budget proposals or any formal document for that matter.


Writing “lyk dis” gives the impression that you’re a raging idiot and completely discredits your writing. So take the extra millisecond and start writing “like this” – we know you’re not that busy.

The Relationship Between “Textisms” and Formal and Informal Writing Among Young Adults
by: Larry D. Rosen, Jennifer Chang, Lynne Erwin, L. Mark Carrier and Nancy A. Cheever
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Communication Research 2010 37: 420