Gender and the Use of Exclamation Points in Computer-Mediated Communication: An Analysis of Exclamations Posted to Two Electronic Discussion Lists

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Abstract

Past research has reported that females use exclamation points more frequently than do males. Such research often characterizes exclamation points as “markers of excitability,” a term that suggests instability and emotional randomness, yet it has not necessarily examined the contexts in which exclamation points appeared for evidence of “excitability.” The present study uses a 16-category coding frame in a content analysis of 200 exclamations posted to two electronic discussion groups serving the library and information science profession. The results indicate that exclamation points rarely function as markers of excitability in these professional forums, but may function as markers of friendly interaction, a finding with implications for understanding gender styles in email and other forms of computer-mediated communication.

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