Emoji usage has become very common in daily text conversation. You can see one in text messages, social media networks, and even in emails. Emojis allows us to communicate to others with emotion and be more visual with our actions.
At first, emojis resembled a facial expression and users had to make, or type the symbol out. The first emojis included a smile, :-), or a frown, :-(. However, nowadays the emojis have evolved. With the help of Unicode, emojis have become pictorial symbols with detailed expressions, including even non-face expressions, such as hearts, flags, places, people, animals, foods and many more. Based on the time of the article was written, Unicode has a total of 2389 emojis. As emojis have become popular in the technology world, it has also helped the retail industry with emoji related things such pillows, candies, jewelry and more.
Many research studies have found that face emoticons and emojis plays a huge role in communication. Lo (2008), Luor, Wu, Lu, and Tao (2010) and Derks, Fischer, and Bos (2008) have found that including a face emoji in a conversation can change one’s interpretation of the message. The significant, possibly connected roles that face-emojis play is to communicate affect, or emotion, and to disambiguate messages. For example, researchers have found that adding a smiley face to a message makes the message more positive, while a frowny face makes the message more negative, than the messages without an emoticon. If one was to make a joke, adding an emoji to the message could lighten the situation and make sure the person on the receiving end doesn’t misinterpret their discourse. Emoticons make up for absence of visual signs, add feeling to the verbal message, and give information on incentives and intentions.
Even though there are many research and explanations on the role of face emojis on communication, there aren’t many of non-face emojis. It’s surprising that this field hasn’t been much explored, especially since only four of the top ten emojis were faces in January 2017. With the few studies that have been published, Novak, Smailovic, Sluban, and Mozetic (2015) and Kaye, Wall, and Malone (2016) discovered that non-face emojis decreased ambiguity, similar to face-emojis. Riordan, the researcher who wrote the article, did a previous study in 2017, and has discovered that non-face emojis alter affect, similar to face-emojis.
This experiment aims to replicate her previous research, but with a different stimuli and emojis, with the further knowledge of Novak, Smailovic, Sluban, and Mozetic (2015) and Kaye, Wall, and Malone (2016). This experimentation aims to investigate whether or not if non-emojis have the same purposes in communication as to face emojis, markedly to alter affect and to disambiguate messages. The four hypotheses for the experiment are: (1) adding a non-face emoji to an ambiguous message will reduce the perceived ambiguity of the message, (2) adding a non-face emoji to an unambiguous message will not alter the perceived ambiguity of the message, (3) adding a non-face emoji to an ambiguous message will alter the perceived affect, and (4) adding a non-face emoji to an unambiguous message will not alter the perceived affect.
One thousand five hundred two people participated in the study. There was 724 males, 767 females and 11 who chose not to classify their gender and ranged in age from 18 to 78 years old. At the end of the study, participants were paid fifteen cents.
The participants saw one of twenty varied messages that were developed on the homonyms “shot” and “ticket” in a survey. Homonyms were chosen because these words could be interpreted in multiple ways. The text messages had an ambiguous sentence such as “Got a shot” and “Got a ticket” with added variations. These include, three types of non-face emojis, three types of words/phrases, and three combinations of an emoji and a word/phrase. The non-face emojis were a needle, a basketball, and a glass of alcohol. The phrases included were “at the basketball game,” “at the bar,” or “at the nurse.” These variations were to disambiguate the homonyms “shot” and “ticket,” in other words, to make the vague sentence clear and therefore, trying to eliminate miscommunication.
With these messages, the participants had to indicate how negative or positive emotion, scaling from -50 to 50 (50 being positive), and how much of 8 emotions (joy, trust, fear, surprise, anger, sadness, disgust, and anticipation) were perceived in the message, scaling from 1 to 7 (7 being very much). Lastly, they were told to rate how confident they felt in their ratings, scaling from 1 to 7 (7 being very much), and how ambiguous the message felt, scaling from 1 to 7 (7 being very much).
The first hypothesis indicated that introducing a non-face emoji to a vague message will reduce the perceived ambiguity of the word. From the findings, there is evidence that uncertainty remained significantly higher for the primary signal than any of the three variations of the specific message. Also, ambiguity for an emoji-only and a word-only message were recorded to be high compared to the level of uncertainty recorded when the message was a combination of word and emoji. The differences between the ambiguity in the word and the emoji message did not reveal any significant variation. The second hypothesis stated that including a non-face emoji to an unambiguous message will not alter the perceived ambiguity of the message. The research confirms this by establishing that including a non-face emoji did not minimize the uncertainty in the message. An ambiguous signal does not change the preconceptions about the word.
The third hypothesis proposed that a non-face emoji to an ambiguous message would alter the perceived effect. The result portrayed variations across the variables used. The addition of an emoji in all cases changed the perception of fact. Hypothesis 4 stated that adding a non-face emoji to an unambiguous message would not alter the perceived effect. The findings reject the idea because the outcome indicates that the non-face emoji had a small impact on stimuli and only had an emotional effect on specific emotions joy, trust, and anticipation. As a result, the research demonstrates that an emoji has a smaller effect on a clear message compared to an ambiguous word.
The experiment confirms two roles of a non-face emoji in communication because they eliminate the ambiguity in a message and facilitate effectiveness. The perception of effect in a non-face emoji depends on the extent of the message is disambiguated. Addition of an emoji or a word were effective in removing the ambiguity in a basic message, but in some cases, adding an emoji reinforced the meaning more. Non-face emojis are effective because they carried extra meaning beyond what they were expected to disambiguate. However, the effect is insignificant and concentrated within a few stimuli. The understanding of the effect of emoji is useful because it can be used to convey messages that minimize miscommunication. Therefore, one can respond effectively to social clues depicted in emojis because they represent the popular values and culture of people.
Being a frequent emoji user, the research and the results were very interesting because of its relatability and importance of emojis in the world today. Emojis are decisive in social and business communication and its impact on the perception of affect matters. People spend a lot of time in selecting the appropriate emoji to include in a message. The use of facial emojis is helpful in conveying various emotions and, as a result, develop and maintain social relations. However, communicating using emojis is a complicated process because of the different context and backgrounds occupied by various people making it challenging for one set of emoji to be applied to social groups. Luckily, non-face emoji are operational in lessening the ambiguity because they illustrate images of generally recognized social signs, therefore showing real-world implications of the results that were found. The primary purpose is to resolve the differences in the application of emoji to help one gain a general communication context adopted in particular society or group to meet the appropriate social ends in the situation.
The research isn’t just scientific interest, but it also has potential implications or applications for “real life.” Emojis have an important role thus enabling people to exhibit emotions and attitudes idealistically. Sometimes words simply do not come out the right way and express our actual intention, however with the creation of emojis, it is a tool that accurately reflects one’s feeling. Besides, emojis are developing and its usage has further advanced by including non-face features. However, the result demonstrates that non-face emojis do not only disambiguate uncertainty, but also provide deeper meaning than the anticipated clarity. The wide applications of emoji is a significant and historic achievement in their real-world use. Particularly, non-face emojis will be treasured in business application because they emphasize the message in promotions. Therefore, the power of emojis in communicating to the customer becomes a source of synergy and thus supporting growth and prosperity.