What your emojis say about you

April 13, 2016 by Linda Kaye, Helen Wall, Stephanie Malone, The Conversation

When you add a smiley face to the end of a message, you may be saying more than you realise. Emoticons, faces formed from punctuation symbols such as :-), and emojis, picture symbols, are now common features of the way we communicate using phone and internet messaging services and social media. They can help your recipient understand a potentially ambiguous message, reinforce the emotion in what you're saying, or communicate your feelings rapidly with a single character. But not everyone uses them – or interprets them – in the same way.

So we set out to discover how the use of these symbols influences the way others perceive us. Do different types of use emoticons for a particular purpose, such as managing their image, for example? If so, what psychological factors are associated with these actions? To do this, we asked a group of students to complete questionnaires about themselves and then allow us to study their textual communication in a staged conversation.

The questions covered the students' views on their personalities, self-esteem, social anxiety and self-presentation concerns (how worried they were about how other people perceived them). We also asked about the amount of emoticons they used and why they used them for text messages, emails and Facebook. We then took screenshots of their Facebook profiles and recorded a 10-minute conversation they had with another, unknown student via Facebook messenger.

We found that those people who rated themselves as agreeable (pleasant, likeable) were more likely to use emoticons on social media sites. We also found that those who were less worried about how other people perceived them were more likely to use sad emoticons.

Mirror to the real world

It seems that different people use emoticons differently depending on their personalities. People who are agreeable tend to use social and emotional cues in the real world to communicate that to other people, such as smiling and being encouraging. And to some degree that is mirrored in the virtual world through the use of smiling emoticons.

This is particularly the case on such as Facebook, where messages may have bigger, wider audiences and where the interactions are richer and more complex than simple, one-to-one plain text messages. We can speculate that people who see themselves as more agreeable are stimulated in these virtual environments and make more of an attempt to convey that part of their personality through emoticons.

At the same time, if you're less bothered about how people perceive you, you may be more comfortable displaying all your emotions, including sadness. And so a sad face on a message may be an indication that you're more concerned with expressing yourself than with how others may judge you.

Some of our other findings also show how we're more likely to use emoticons in some kinds of virtual communication than others. Perhaps understandably, our participants deemed emoticons inappropriate for more professional contexts, which probably explains why they said they used emoticons less in email than in text messages or .

Regardless of this, our participants reported that emoticons were a useful way of expressing themselves and reducing the ambiguity of messages. This suggests emoticons may be particularly important for individuals who find it difficult to express or interpret emotion or social intent using just text and the cues it can provide.

This has prompted us to start planning further research into whether emoticons could be beneficial for those on the autism spectrum. These individuals can struggle with social interaction and picking up , so the clarity that emoticons bring to potentially ambiguous messages may help them to communicate.

Judging emoticons

For the final part of our research, we asked another group of people to look at the conversations and profiles we had recorded, in order to study how other people judge us based on our use of emoticons. We found that the more smiley emoticons a person had used, the more they were seen as agreeable, conscientious and open to .

But this didn't always correspond to how people saw themselves. The emoticon users and those being asked to judge them were most likely to agree on how extroverted and open to new experiences they were. This suggests that while smiling emoticons may make people seem more agreeable and conscientious, that may not match up with their own personalities.

All of this hints at how much the way we use and emojis appears to shape other people's impressions of us – and the fact that we should be aware of how we use them online. Although we recorded examples of observers making positive judgements about other people's emoticon usage, other behaviour could lead to less favourable impressions.

Explore further: The meaning of emoticons

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12 comments

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TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Apr 13, 2016
What does this one mean
:-((((((
?
Captain Stumpy
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 13, 2016
What does this one mean
:-((((((
?

it means rc the insipid retard needs to get a life?
antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 13, 2016
Stumpy is a 8=3
RealityCheck
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 13, 2016
What does this one mean
:-((((((
?

it means rc the insipid retard needs to get a life?
It means you, CapS et al, need to get an Adult brain; and a new PO "Schtick" that doesn't exemplify Dunning-Kruger principle like every "performance" of your current "Stupidity Schtick" does at present. Grow up.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2016
It means
TL;DR
blatant false claim with unsubstantiated conjecture

you need to get an Adult brain; and a new PO "Schtick" that doesn't exemplify Dunning-Kruger principle like every "performance" of your current "Stupidity Schtick" does at present. Grow up.
gkam
1 / 5 (5) Apr 14, 2016
Grumpy needs to verify his claim of working on a riverboat.

He screams "LIAR" at others, so let's see his proof.
Captain Stumpy
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2016
needs to verify his claim of working on a riverboat.
as i've not made a claim that i must be correct about something regardless of the evidence because i worked on a riverboat,
then this would not be relevant or on topic, nor would it be evidence necessary to provide for proof of anything
He screams "LIAR" at others,
yes, especially when it is proven that they lied, like here:
http://phys.org/n...age.html

http://phys.org/n...ess.html

http://phys.org/n...ine.html

http://phys.org/n...rse.html

http://phys.org/n...ent.html

http://phys.org/n...ich.html

i can provide links, references and evidence proving my point
you can't

therefore, by definition, you're lying and attempting to argue from authority against validated evidence
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2016
Grumpy needs to verify his claim of working on a riverboat
Why's that? Just because he exposed your lies about your MS, based on the info you inadvertently sent him?

It's not HIS fault you're a bad liAR.

Any competent HR dept would have done the same thing which is why you've spent most of the last 10 years on the internet.

Am I right?

Oh I'm sorry I thought you were talking about ira. Stumpy exposed a lot more of your lies based on what you sent HIM didn't he?
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2016
Ghost of Porkulence, your adolescent sniping just displays your silly hateful nastiness.

Give it up. A lot of people are going to figure you out, which is why you only exist here, in Phonyspace. Your nasty attitude and lack of manners have restricted you to right here, hasn't it? You are not a real person, but just a slob cowering behind a keyboard, too SCARED to face us yourself.

Say and scream all you want "otto".
RealityCheck
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 14, 2016
Poor CapS.
]TL;DR
blatant false claim with unsubstantiated conjecture
you need to get an Adult brain; and a new PO "Schtick" that doesn't exemplify Dunning-Kruger principle like every "performance" of your current "Stupidity Schtick" does at present. Grow up.
CapS, how moronic do they make 'em where you came from? Don't you even have wit enough to see that quoting my two-line comment and then you claiming....
TL:DR (Too Long: Didn't Read)
....is a totally stupid thing to do? Effectively, you are claiming that two lines is "Too Long" for you to read; and that you "Didn't Read" two lines because you prefer to kneejerk immediately to your "Schtick" of "in denial" childish and hypocritical, not to say, totally insensible, posts which constantly confirm your now-longstanding reputation here as an Internet Loser? Have you no brains as well as no honesty in your "intellectual ammunition" locker? Poor CapS.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2016
it's clear he's only here to attempt to bully
@full-of-bs
evidence?
you should be able to prove it if it is true

of course, that would mean admitting that you advocate for pseudoscience and trolling threads with said pseudoscience for the sake of collecting acolytes for your belief system which is not evidence based
-and i can prove you post pseudoscience
http://phys.org/n...ity.html

http://phys.org/n...ant.html

http://phys.org/n...apy.html

just like i can prove liar-kam posts pseudoscience and blatant false claims (links above)

just like i can prove rc posts pseudoscience and false claims, and whines about being banhammered from other places for the same tactics she uses here
(way too many links to post, but i have them, if the MODS want them)

evidence is the key

i got it
you aint got nada
[intentional]

RealityCheck
3 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2016
Poor CapS.
just like i can prove rc posts pseudoscience and false claims, and whines about being banhammered from other places for the same tactics she uses here
(way too many links to post, but i have them, if the MODS want them)

evidence is the key
Yet I proved I posted known science, correctly understood/applied, to Da Schneib and Da Schneib admitted I was correct; but poor CapS still denies the evidence and keeps making a total twit of himself like this. And after my many Internet Experiments, which proved I was banned from sites because the mod-troll gangs at the time were abusing the rules and their position/power by colluding to frame and ban me, this poor CapS still denies the evidence in order to continue being a total hypocrite and liar.

So much for CapS' claims of 'following the evidence'. Just more self-deluded twaddle from this internet loser become the exemplar of the Dunning-Kruger tosser which he accuses others of being. Insensibility personified!

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