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Texting Doesn't Replace the Feel-Good Effects of Talking, Study Says
Date:1/31/2013

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- It's hard to quibble with the speed and convenience of connecting through texts and instant messages, but scientists say that today's ubiquitous online social communication may not confer the same feel-good effects as plain old talking.

Studying a group of girls, U.S. researchers found that key emotion-linked hormones -- including cortisol and oxytocin -- responded in potentially beneficial ways when the girls talked over a stressful event with their mothers compared to when they texted about it.

"We're not really sure why, but maybe hearing that voice is special. Hearing someone's voice is not only able to convey tone and sincerity, but also identity," said study author Leslie Seltzer, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

"A child can identify that person is definitely their parent, whereas with texting they can't. It's perhaps not particularly surprising but applicable, because everyone likes using texting or instant messaging so much . . . but people should know that it's not necessarily eliciting the same [emotional response]."

The study, recently presented at a meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology in New Orleans, was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Seltzer and her colleagues compared the hormonal responses of 68 girls between the ages of nearly 8 and 12 when hearing their mother's voice with those who communicated with their mothers via instant message after completing a stressful math and verbal test.

Compared to girls who texted their mothers after the stressor, those who either spoke to their mothers by phone or in person had lower levels of cortisol -- the "stress" hormone -- and higher levels of oxytocin, known as the "love hormone" because of its link to forming positive relationships. The hormone
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