The risk of using emojis

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News Desk August 15, 2017
PHOTO: AFP

Inclusion of emojis in emails may convey professional ineptitude, according to a study by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. Presence of emojis may undermine information sharing and hint at lack of competency.

"Our findings provide first-time evidence that, contrary to actual smiles, smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence," said Dr Ella Gilkson.

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"In formal business e-mails, a smiley is not a smile," the post-doctorate fellow in management explained.

The study was conducted by scholars from BGU, the University of Haifa and Amsterdam University and involved a series of experiments with 549 participants hailing from 29 different countries, according to a paper published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Similar types of work-related emails were read by the participants, who were then asked to assess their warmth and professional competence. The findings showed that the inclusion of smiley emojis did not have any effect on people’s perceptions of warmth, but in fact lowered their perceptions of competence.

"The study also found that when the participants were asked to respond to e-mails on formal matters, their answers were more detailed and they included more content-related information when the e-mail did not include a smiley," said Dr Glikson.

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"We found that the perceptions of low competence if a smiley is included in turn undermined information sharing," she added.

Sexism was also revealed in people’s opinions regarding emoji usage. It was found that when a sender was unknown, recipients were more likely to assume that emails containing emojis were sent by women.

This story originally appeared on The Independent.

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