Phone calls form stronger bonds than text messages, research shows

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Your texts to family and friends may not be connecting the same way the sound of your voice does.

New research published by the University of Texas at Austin in the Journal of Experimental Psychology says people choose to send a text-based message, whether a cell phone text message or an e-mail, too much and would be better served calling a person in order to feel a connection.

In the study, UT assistant professor of marketing Amit Kumar said people chose to type because they felt a phone call would be more awkward. Kumar said they were wrong.

“People feel significantly more connected through voice-based media, but they have these fears about awkwardness that are pushing them towards text-based media,” Kumar said.

In one of the experiments, researchers asked 200 people to make predictions about what it would be like to reconnect with an old friend through either phone or email. Once researchers asked a random number of the people to actually contact the old friend, they found contacting them over the phone wasn’t awkward at all, even though they thought texting was the less awkward method. Researchers said the call went “much better” than the email.

“When it came to actual experience, people reported they did form a significantly stronger bond with their old friend on the phone versus email, and they did not feel more awkward,” Kumar said.

Another experiment in the study involved people being randomly assigned to talk with strangers to connect with via live text chat, taking over video chat or talking with audio only. Participants asked and answered a series of personal questions, for example, “Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?”

The study says the participants didn’t expect the manner of which they communicated would matter, and they thought they would feel just as connected to the person whether they heard their voice or not.

Wrong, again. People felt significantly more connected with they talked to the person, rather than typing a message for the person to read, the study showed.

The study showed voice itself, even without the visual cues of a video chat, seemed to be integral to bonding, researchers concluded.

While the COVID-19 pandemic keeps people physically apart, the best thing to do to maintain relationships and foster the same connections as in-person meetings, researchers say to pick up the phone and talk.

“We’re being asked to maintain physical distance, but we still need these social ties for our well-being — even for our health,” Kumar said.

Read More: Phone calls form stronger bonds than text messages, research shows

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