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Researchers Say We’ve Been Underestimating Emojis, Here’s Why

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Researchers Say We’ve Been Underestimating Emojis, Here’s Why

Do you have a friend or family member that litters their emails or text messages with emojis? Maybe this person is passionate about expressing themselves through an emoji — it’s how they communicate electronically. Or you may have a friend that does not use emojis at all.

For the folks that use emojis, the primary reason behind it is to express yourself and to clarify the tone of your message. Many people who don’t use emojis may view them as unnecessary. However, there have been a few studies completed which look into how emojis can affect how people communicate with one another, and the results are quite surprising.

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Emotional Contagion In Face-to-Face Communication

Since birth, we have been mimicking each other’s expressions and emotions when we are talking in person. Most of the time, we’re not aware that we are doing this. This is also called “emotional contagion,” which is the occurrence of having one person’s emotions and expressions directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in others.

Think back to a time when someone shared good news with you. I’m sure you found yourself just as happy, mirroring the same expressions and body language. The opposite is true when someone is upset with you. You may find yourself mirroring the same expression on their face and their body language.

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Emotional contagion allows us to show empathy and further build relationships with others. You may think this only applies to face-to-face communication, but emojis actually afford us similar emotional contagion cues.

Then How About Emojis?

Emerging research indicates that when we see specific emojis, our mood changes. Think back to a time when you received a text from a friend or loved one that was coupled with a smiley emoji, how did that make you feel? Maybe you found yourself smiling back at that message? Did your response have a smiley emoji attached?

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Whether we are aware of it or not, our facial expressions tend to mimic the emotion of the emoji.

When we communicate face-to-face, we have non-verbal cues being sent our way. These include intonation, gestures, facial expressions, and body language. We use these cues to help convey the specific messages we want others to understand. In turn, we mimic similar gestures, body language, and facial expressions when we are listening to others to show support and acknowledge the conversation.

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However, with technology booming and the prevalence of connecting with others electronically, we miss out on several specific non-verbal cues that enhance our communication. I’m sure you have experienced a communication breakdown via text or email. This can happen due to the lack of non-verbal cues that support the messages we want to convey to others.

How Emojis Can Increase Social Intimacy

Stellar communication requires social intimacy. Meaning, we increase the quality of our communications through the disclosure of personal details. But it takes more than just sharing personal experiences and opinions with others to create social intimacy. We must also express our feelings and emotions with others. This is how we build a close relationship and continue to maintain the relationship. You can enlist the help of emojis to help you express your feelings and emotions with others in a digital world.

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We immediately recognize when someone takes time to share their emotions with us. The use of emojis increases our intimacy with others. As we increase emojis when communicating with others, our perception of intimacy increases as well. So, feel free to couple a text message with a smiley face or an email with an emoji that expresses your feelings more clearly. Let an emoji complete the emotion you are trying to convey in your message.

Conclusion

Emojis can help enhance how we communicate electronically. The benefits of adding in a smiley face here and there, or whatever emoji you see fit, can provide you with a deeper connection with the person you are communicating with.

More by this author

Tara Massan

Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

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