Emojis Mean Different Things to Different People, Says Study

By Kanika Gupta - 15 Apr '16 15:26PM

Emoji is the perfect filler when one lacks words and want to convey their true emotions via texting. In absence of these emojis, a lot of meaning is lost in translation. However, a new study from University of Minnesota says that emojis are interpreted differently by different people. This is true even if the two people are chatting on a same operating system.

According to an online survey conducted by researchers, they asked respondents how they interpreted the sentiment displayed by the emoji "grinning face with smiling eyes." They were given a scale between -5 being strongly negative and +5 being strongly positive. The findings revealed that as many as 70% of the people rated this emoji in the negative area of the chart with most people giving it a -3 rating. However, 27% still believed that this emoji conveyed a positive emotion.

The researchers explained that the reason why emoji is interpreted differently is because of the delicate details such as slant in the eyebrows or color of the cheeks. The worst miscommunication between emojis happen when one is chatting across different operating systems. The "grinning face with smiling eyes" emoji, for instance, is seen more upbeat on a Google, Microsoft or LG device as compared to Apple.

The researchers concluded that the emoji ratings varied significantly on two platforms by more than two points on their scale. However, this doesn't mean that the way emojis are interpreted are wildly off but is worth noting that sometimes the message might get mixed.

The researchers recommend that it would be a good practice to systematize emoji characters across platforms to eliminate miscommunication. But of course there will still be room for individual interpretation. It can also be helpful if one is aware that their emoji is being viewed on a different OS so that they know what the other person is seeing and interpreting.

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