Marquette University News Release

Marquette researchers find differences in international ‘textiquette’

October 6, 2010

Professors Shuter, Chattopadhyay examined text messaging behaviors in U.S., India

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University communication professors have found that there are emerging interpersonal norms in text messaging behavior among college-age students in the United States and India — and those standards differ considerably between the two countries. Robert Shuter, a professor of communication studies in the Diederich College of Communication who led the study, calls the largely unstudied area of text messaging behavior “textiquette.”

The first-of-its-kind study, which will be published in the November 2010 issue of the Journal of Intercultural Communication Research and was presented in June at the International Communication Association conference in Singapore, has uncovered fundamental differences in how, when and with whom American and Indian men and women text one another. The study also demonstrates what sorts of texting behaviors these different cultures find impolite.

According to Shuter, the pervasiveness of mobile technologies worldwide has sparked research into the devices, focused mostly on technical usage issues such as provider plans, infrastructure and cell phone proliferation. Shuter, however, was interested specifically in text messaging and how it is influenced by the interpersonal behaviors of others.

“Few investigations have examined the social functions of mobile technology,” Shuter said. “And most of these studies explore the cell phone as a medium of talk rather than text messaging.”

Shuter and collaborator Sumana Chattopadhyay, an assistant professor of broadcast and electronic communication at Marquette, studied 137 participants who recorded multiple text messages sent and received in specially designed text logs. Each log secured data on the following dimensions: (1) The context in which a text was sent and received/read, (2) who each participant was with — and the reaction of this person(s) — when the participant sent or received/read a text message, and (3) what constitutes impolite text messaging behavior.

“The results strongly suggest that two culturally different textiquettes — the interpersonal norms that guide text messaging — appear to be developing in India and the U.S.,” said Shuter. “Further, the study demonstrates that text messaging and culture seem to be inextricably linked.”

Key findings
Some of the study’s key findings include:

  • Americans — both males and females — are significantly more apt than Indian men and women to send and read messages in public social settings like restaurants, shops and movie theaters. In contrast, Indian men and women prefer to send and read texts in semi-private settings like their apartment or a friend’s apartment.
  • Americans report significantly more types of impolite texting behavior than do Indians and, in particular, find impolite — more than Indians — texting in a classroom, movie theater, at dinner, loud text alerts and while conversing with others. Indians, however, report swearing in texts as impolite more than do Americans who infrequently indicate that this is impolite behavior.
  • Indians tend to send and read texts when they are with family members or a boyfriend/girlfriend. Americans tend to send and read texts when they are with insignificant others, i.e. strangers/acquaintances or friends, but much less so with family members or a boyfriend/girlfriend.

For a copy of the complete study or to interview Shuter, please contact Christopher Stolarski in the Office of Marketing and Communication at (414) 288-1988 or

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