Emoticon Use in Mobile Communications :-)

Emoticon Use in Mobile Communications :-)

Robert A. Nelson, Chad C. Tossell, Philip Kortum
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch001
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Following the ubiquitous spread of smartphones across the world, an increasing amount of communications are conducted through text-based media (e.g., text messaging, email, social media, etc.). As such, important non-verbal information ordinarily conveyed through means such as facial expressions and body language can be absent. This can have a profound effect on the connectedness of a group, and can contribute to misunderstanding in interpersonal communications. However, emoticons have been used to provide this missing socio-emotional information and to help enhance the subtle interpretation of electronic communications. This article describes the content of current research into emoticon-use, including the parallels between emoticons and face-to-face non-verbal communications, the effect of gender and cultural differences on emoticon-use, and emoticon usage in media accessed through mobile technology. Given the high volume of mobile communications—and well-documented usability problems with regard to typing long messages on small screens—this article concludes with the suggestion of deeper integration of emoticons and mobile communication, as well as indications for future research.
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Current Scientific Knowledge In Emoticons

Some of the earliest research on emoticons was done by Rezabek & Cochenour (1998) and Wolf (2000). Their work was instrumental in developing a foundation and direction for future research in functional uses of emoticons and gender differences respectively. Since then, some of the most important work in this area has been done by Walther and D’Addario (2001), Huffaker and Calvert (2005), and Derks and his colleagues (2007, 2008a, 2008b). Derks, Fischer, and Bos (2008) conducted an extensive review of emoticons which was later updated (Jibril & Abdullah, 2013). Research specific to mobile space was conducted by Tossell and his colleagues (2012) examining actual emoticon use that was telemetrically obtained from users in the field. They focused on both overall use in text messages as well as gender differences building upon research from previous technologies.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Emotion: A state that is determined by feelings, rather than reason or logic.

Smartphone: An electronic device that has phone, messaging and internet capabilities.

Twitter: A trademarked name of a service that allows users to broadcast short messages to large numbers of users.

Culture: Variations amongst human groups, defined by their beliefs, practices, religion, arts and customs.

Text Messages: A short message that is used to communicate in real time on a smartphone. Often referred to as SMS messages.

Language: A method of communicating with others through spoken or written artifacts.

Mobile: Technology that is not restricted to use in a single location due to its size or infrastructure requirements.

Email: A written message that is shared between users via an electronic format. Unlike Twitter and SMS, email messages are generally unrestricted in length.

SMS: Short Message Service. Short text messages that are used to communicate in real time on a smartphone. Often referred to as text messages.

Emoticons: A symbolic representation of an emotion, used in written communications to help convey meaning.:-) is an example of an emoticon.

Communication: The transmission of information to another individual.

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