‘Text-speak’ more distracting – study

New research from the University of Canterbury has shown that reading text-speak – the abbreviated writing many of us use in text messages – is harder on the brain than reading plain English.

Psychologists from the university have been picking apart the differences between the reading normal English and ‘text-speak’, that digital pseudo-language which skips vowels (e.g. txt; text), swaps numbers for sounds (Gr8; great) and goes heavy on the acronyms (LOL; laugh out loud)

In a study recently published in the journal Acta Psychologica, researcher found that participants who had to read messages written in text speak performed slower and more poorly in a simultaneous vibration detection test, compared to people who read a plain English message.

The  increased difficulty or ‘cognitive load’ caused by reading text-speak is, according to the authors, very relevant to the phenomenon of driving and texting. They note in their conclusions: “The applied implication of the results is that reading text messages while driving is extremely dangerous in its own right; however, this danger can be compounded further if the driver is reading messages in text-speak. ”

Several New Zealand media outlets have highlighted the research, coverage includes:

NZ Herald: Text-speak may strain your brain: Report

The Press: Text-speak harder to read while driving

3 News: Text-speak takes more mental energy, says study