A research paper on the cultural differences in emoji use and understanding

Researchers from the University of Nottingham released a paper this month about the “individual differences in emoji comprehension” across gender, age, and culture. Here’s the abstract:

Emoji are an important substitute for non-verbal cues (such as facial expressions) in online written communication. So far, however, little is known about individual differences regarding how they are perceived. In the current study, we examined the influence of gender, age, and culture on emoji comprehension. Specifically, a sample of 523 participants across the UK and China completed an emoji classification task. In this task, they were presented with a series of emoji, each representing one of six facial emotional expressions, across four commonly used platforms (Apple, Android, WeChat, and Windows). Their task was to choose from one of six labels (happy, sad, angry, surprised, fearful, disgusted) which emotion was represented by each emoji. Results showed that all factors (age, gender, and culture) had a significant impact on how emojis were classified by participants. This has important implications when considering emoji use, for example, conversation with partners from different cultures.

Individual differences in emoji comprehension: Gender, age, and culture — Yihua Chen, Xingchen Yang, Hannah Howman, Ruth Filik (2024)

I know my emoji use and comprehension is way different to my mum, for example. She opts for the woman dancing in the red dress and the grinning emoji quite a lot when she reacts to things and my emoji use is more wide ranging depending on my mood. Definitely an interesting paper.

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