Frown and the Net Frowns With You, But Smile and You Smile Alone

Image result for Frown and the Net Frowns With You, But Smile and You Smile Alone
That’s according to a study
which assessed the effects of smileys 🙂 and frownies 🙁 as I’m now calling
them. Walther and D’Addario (2001) found that while smileys had no effect on
the way a message was interpreted, frowns did reduce the positivity of positive
messages. Overall, though, the effect of emoticons was relatively small.
These results don’t seem to
tie up with a study I reported recently about the effects of emoticons and
capitalisation on how email is perceived which did find a positive effect for
smileys. But this study used different measures along with taking into account
personality variables. Plus it compared a smiley emoticon with no emoticon,
rather than with a frowny emoticon as did Walther and D’Addario (2001).
of day and delay
But emoticons and
capitalisation are not the only nonverbal cues that have been studied in
‘computer mediated communication’. Time of day and delay before replying are
two key nonverbal cues in email.
Walther and Tidwell (1995)
looked at both of these. Work emails sent at night received the higher ratings
for dominance when compared with the same email sent during the day. The
opposite was seen for social emails, where more dominance was attributed to
emails sent during the day.
Looking at the delay in
replying to emails, affection towards work email replies was highest when quick
during the day, while lowest when they were quick at night. The reverse
findings were seen for social messages with quick replies at night attracting
the most affection.
A few studies have also
examined choice of avatars. These are images people chose to represent
themselves in online chat or in online games. Contrary to expectations, one
study found that generally the more abstract and less human-like an avatar was,
the more likely it was to provoke interest (Nowak & Biocca, 2003).
Another study has found that
when avatars with facial expressions are used, these are communicated to
humans, although only to a limited extent (Ku et al., 2005).
of meaning
All this research shows it’s
amazing how much we can infer from so little information. You’d be forgiven for
thinking that nonverbal behaviour in emails or instant messaging or even avatar
choice was non-existent, and what there was didn’t make much difference. But
this research just goes to show humans are masters at squeezing every last
ounce of meaning from everything we’re presented with, even it’s only a colon
followed by a left bracket.
the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD
is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from
University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about
scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book
“Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.