Women use emoticons more than men in text messaging :-)

Oct 11, 2012 by David Ruth
Women use emoticons more than men in text messaging :-)
Credit: Rice University/Photos.com

(Phys.org)—Women are twice as likely as men to use emoticons in text messages, according to a new study from Rice University.

Emoticons are graphic symbols that use punctuation marks and letters to represent to convey a person's mood, help provide context to a person's textual communication and clarify a message that could otherwise possibly be misconstrued.

The study, "A Longitudinal Study of Emoticon Use in Text Messaging from Smartphones," used data from men and women over six months and aggregated 124,000 text messages. The participants were given free iPhones to use for the test period but didn't know what researchers were investigating.

"We believe that our study represents the first naturalistic and that collects real emoticon use from text messages 'in the wild,'" said Philip Kortum, assistant professor of psychology at Rice and one of the study's authors.

Texting has become one of the most popular forms of communication in society worldwide. This year alone, it is estimated that 8 trillion text messages will be tapped out.

In the Rice study, 100 percent of the participants used emoticons, but they did not use them very often, with only 4 percent of all their sent text messages containing one or more emoticons. Other researchers have found differing rates, but those studies relied on users to self-report their emoticon usage. One benefit of the current field study is the realistic look at the ground truth of what actually occurred and what users really do.

"Texting does not appear to require as much socio-emotional context as other means of nonverbal communications," Kortum said. "It could be due to 's simplicity and briefer communication, which removes some of the pressures that are inherent in other types of non-face-to-face communication, like email or blogs."

The study also confirms previous research that women are more emotionally expressive in ; however, in this research, the authors found that while women may use emoticons more than men, the men used a larger variety of emoticons to express themselves.

Participants in the Rice study texted a wide variety of emoticons. Seventy-four different emoticons were used, but the top three emoticons – happy, sad and very happy – made up 70 percent of the total sent by the study participants.

Kortum and his co-authors pointed out that their study is a glimpse into the complex nature of real mediated communications. They said that additional inquiry in real-world settings are needed to understand the complexities of human communications through technology.

The study's co-authors were Chad Tossell, Clayton Shepard, Ahmad Rahmati and Lin Zhong, all of Rice University, and Laura Barg-Walkow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The study was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and appeared in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

The data collected from the smartphones included all text messages sent and received with the timestamp, number of words and amount and type of emoticon(s) used. Privacy was maintained by making the users anonymous and by permanently masking the textual content.

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User comments : 8

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El_Nose
3 / 5 (2) Oct 11, 2012
waste of money :-(
I could have told you that :-/
have a nice day ^^
marko
1.7 / 5 (3) Oct 11, 2012
Whats this -> ,,,,,,,,;

A semi-colon crapping itself.
Moebius
3 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2012
Wow, never would have guessed that ;) The idea we are equal is laughable :0 They should be treated with equality but we are essentially 2 different species and the day we ARE truly equal will be a dark day because then they would just be strange looking men :( The question on that day is will ALL the kids in the schoolyard be screaming or none?
Mauricio
3.5 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2012
I use them a lot, and I am a man.

Words are not the best way of communicate. A symbol can carry as much meaning or more than words. Women probably use them more because they seem better at linguistic tasks than us.

But in complete agreement that the idea that we are equal is ridiculous, at best. We can have the same civil rights, but we are VERY different from women.

:)
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2012
Women probably use them more because they seem better at linguistic tasks than us.

I think it's much simpler than that. When men blab they blab about
a) a limited set of subjects within which it's already clear what kind of emotion is expressed (sex, tech, sports, binge-drinking, whatever. )
b) Factual stuff which needs no emoticons to enhance clarity.

Women often blab just for the blab's sake. (vastly overgeneralizing here but I do think there is a definite difference between male and female communication patterns as a whole)
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (8) Oct 11, 2012
WTF is an emoticon? <:o|
Husky
2 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2012
i am more into wordplay morphing and double meanings, i like the dry english humour that is often spoken/written in an, trying to hold your laugh, emoticonless way. the best wine doesn't emoticons it needs connaisseurs....
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (1) Oct 12, 2012
the best wine doesn't emoticons it needs connaisseurs....

...and good wordplay requires a spellcheck and some basic proficiency with the language.

Otherwise the joke's on you.