There’s not a ton of research out there on romantic emails and the emotions they elicit, but studies have shown email to be helpful in maintaining long-distance relationships, and a theory called “social information processing theory” contends that online interactions are no worse for building a relationship than face-to-face interactions, they just do it a little more slowly.
When a bird makes a nest, we don’t call it unnatural for not just sleeping on a bare branch.
The researchers also hypothesized that participants would prefer email to voicemail for utilitarian messages, and voicemail to email for romantic messages. The participants—72 college students—showed stronger emotional responses when composing an email than when leaving a voicemail, as measured by the movement of their facial muscles, and how sweaty they got on their hands and feet (an unfortunate side effect of experiencing emotion).
They also used stronger and more positive language when writing a romantic email than when leaving a romantic voicemail.“The received wisdom or common belief is that email is a colder medium, so it’s something that’s not really good for romantic communication,” says Alan Dennis, a professor of internet systems at Indiana University and a co-author of the study.
“That wasn’t what we found.”This research challenges the notion that more “natural” communication is always better and more enjoyable.
(People are kind of over talking on the phone anyway.
According to “media naturalness theory,” what makes a medium of communication “natural” is how closely it resembles face-to-face conversation. This is why, in a new study forthcoming from the journal the researchers expected that people would have a more negative valence to their emotions, with less emotional arousal (science-speak for feeling bad and bored) when using email compared to voicemail.
The more a medium allows people to respond to each other in real time, to see each other’s faces and body language, to hear each other’s voices, the more “natural” it is. Voicemail at least allows for the conveying of emotion through tone.
Especially the youngs.) And depending on how you look at it, email isn’t necessarily that unnatural.“It’s pretty clear if you take an evolutionary-biology viewpoint that email and text messaging is less natural than face-to-face and telephone,” Dennis says.
“If you take a different perspective and look at what people grow up with you might come to a different conclusion.