Scientists discover that 50% of people text the same person 90% of the time

Scientists have recently been looking at human communication patterns to see if they can identify trends that speak to how society is adopting technology. Often people think that a new social network or other such service is going to change human behavior, but soon reality sets in that people simply use new methods of contacting each other in the same manner that man has been doing since the dawn of time. When observing a series of text messages, it was discovered that 50% of people send 90% of their texts to the same person. They also found that most text message session last between 2 and 20 minutes where there is a period of frequent back and forth conversation. After that 20 minute windows the replies take longer, and longer, and longer to come, and at some point the conversation terminates.

If you think about how you talk to your friends in real life, this makes sense. Someone brings up a topic, there’s an initial heated discussion where everyone is interrupting everyone else, and then after all is said and done both parties go about their separate ways or enjoy the beer that’s been sitting on the table for the past half hour and is now sadly warm.

It’d be interesting to see what sort of trends these guys can identify between users of RIM’s BlackBerry Messanger service that enables things like group chat and a more refined list of friends since the proprietary system can only be used by BlackBerry users. Then there’s also instant messaging. But as previously stated, I don’t think new technology drives people to do inherently new things, it just lets them interact with their peers in different ways. The peers, the important part of the equation, mostly stay the same.

Who do you text the most? Your mom? Your girlfriend? Your mistress?

  • These scientists need to get a real day job…

    • Radkej

      According to the source article, “The authors speculate that this burst-and-taper pattern of text messages also applies to other information ecosystems like e-mail and trading, and that service providers could potentially allocate their bandwidth management or phone line availability based on this pattern.”

      Sounds like a useful line of research.

    • Radkej

      According to the source article, “The authors speculate that this burst-and-taper pattern of text messages also applies to other information ecosystems like e-mail and trading, and that service providers could potentially allocate their bandwidth management or phone line availability based on this pattern.”

      Sounds like a useful line of research.

  • Guest

    This article both misrepresents the source article and draws faulty conclusions.
    The source article (which may or may not be correctly representing the published study) does not state that “most text message session last between 2 and 20 minutes.” It says that this “often” happens among the 50% of users of three carriers who do send 90% of their text messages to one person.
    To claim that because this pattern is similar to oral communications patterns, texting isn’t changing the manner of communication that man has been using “since the dawn of time,” is to ignore that most people probably don’t speak 90% of the time to one person.

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