Ambiguity in Text Messages: “I Hate You for Using Emojis Inconsistently With What You Wrote in WhatsApp”

AbstractThis study investigates whether incongruency of valences between emoji and text in texting will promote stronger negative inference in readers. An experiment assessed participants’ judgments of the text messages by recording their response times and perceived valence from the messages (either positive or negative) under the following manipulations: positive or negative messages paired with an emoji that convey positive, negative or ambiguous/neutral emotions (i.e. the pairing of emojis and test may be congruent or incongruent in their valences). Compared with congruent text messages, we found that incongruency between emojis and texts promoted stronger negative inference and elicited a longer processing time, even in texts that conveyed a positive meaning or when the emoji itself was ambiguous/neutral. These results suggest that texts and emojis jointly influence the perceived mood of messages, hinting the importance of the effective use of emojis in order to convey intended meanings and emotions efficiently.

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