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Friday, August 14, 1998 Published at 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK


Reading between the lines

Holidaymakers can send the wrong signals in postcards

Postcards might say much more about you than where you go on holiday, according to research by a university professor.

Tim Wheeler, head of the communications department at University College Chester, has matched personality types to the postcards that holidaymakers send to their friends and family.

According to Professor Wheeler, sending a postcard showing a landscape is not a tribute to the local scenery, but can be evidence of a form of one-upmanship. "By sending these you are showing off and gloating that while people are working back home, you are soaking up paradise," said the professor.

[ image: Sending a postcard showing scenery reveals a mean, selfish holidaymaker]
Sending a postcard showing scenery reveals a mean, selfish holidaymaker
Such seemingly harmless cards can also be indications of meanness, said Professor Wheeler. "You are careful with your money so these cards are often the cheapest. If you select cards with a variety of scenes, arranged in a montage, there's no denying you love seeking value for money all year round."

If you want to find a postcard that sends a less damning message about your personality, the professor is more flattering about people who send saucy seaside cards, heavy with unsubtle double entendres.

Such postcard senders are "big hearted and want people to know you are thinking of them fondly. The aim is to amuse the recipient, not rub it in that you are on holiday and they are not."

More modern attempts at humour, such as the ubiquitous plain black "city by night" postcards might have been considered proof of a serious lack of originality. But the professor concluded that such cards are intended as an indication of being young and imaginative.

"You want to show the person you're sending to that you've sought out something original and witty. These cards are primarily sent by young men on holiday with mates," said Professor Wheeler.

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