- Read receipts are a sometimes optional feature that lets others know when their messages have been viewed by the person they sent them to.
- To figure out if using read receipts is actually a wise idea, INSIDER spoke to Pamela Rutledge, a behavioural scientist who specialises in the effects of media and technology on our well-being.
- According to Rutledge, read receipts can set us up for unrealistic expectations that go against the realities of human communication and they can also cause us to feel anxious.
- Even though we may know why someone isn’t responding right away, seeing a message has been read but not answered can cause emotional feelings of rejection that are hard to override.
- Ultimately, if you or those close to you have read receipts turned on, you might want to have a conversation about what exactly they mean and how they are being used.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
People with messaging apps are probably familiar with read receipts, the feature that lets people know when their messages have been viewed by the person they sent it to.
For some people, the very idea of read receipts sparks a feeling of dread and anxiousness whereas others might find comfort in knowing when someone has opened their message.
INSIDER spoke to Pamela Rutledge, a behavioural scientist who specialises in the effects of media and technology on our well-being, of the Media Psychology Research Center about whether or not using read receipts is a wise idea.
Receipt time and response time aren’t always the same thing – but it’s hard to remember this when you’re messaging someone
When you see the instantaneous acknowledgment that a message has been received, it triggers your assumption that someone should respond just as quickly, Rutledge told INSIDER.
She explained that people tend to make all sorts of assumptions and judgments about how fast it takes someone to respond to a message after they saw it without considering what the sender could be up to.
For example, it’s unsafe and even illegal in some places to text while driving. So even though a person might have the capability of hearing your text message safely read aloud by connecting their phone to their car, they might not be able to type out a response right away.
Or maybe someone’s in a meeting at work or has their hands full at the grocery store. Maybe the person got distracted after opening your message and then forgot to respond to it …
As you can see, someone taking a long time to answer you isn’t inherently negative, but as the sender, you don’t necessarily know the cause of a delayed response and you’re left wondering why the person has opened your message and has yet to respond after minutes or even hours.
When messaging someone who uses read receipts, it’s not uncommon to have feelings of rejection when they don’t respond right away
“Response times and response patterns are signals that carry meaning. We assume that fast response means we’re a high priority and slow response means we’re not,” Rutledge told INSIDER.
These feelings of rejection aren’t always based in truth, but they are very much real and painful to experience. This perceived rejection could cause you to feel undervalued, said Rutledge.
Ultimately, if you or those close to you use read receipts, you might want to have a conversation about them and what exactly they mean
“Since innate reactions are emotional and hard to override, it’s good to have a conversation with the people you care about most to understand how they view response time and share what it means to you,” she told INSIDER.
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