English Journal Article

Use and interpretation of emoji in electronic-mediated communication: A survey

Visual Communication Quarterly |


Among the pictorial representations that have succeeded in electronic-mediated communication (EMC), the rise of emoji is of special interest, as they have widely spread around the world. This article reports on the results of a survey conducted among students and staff of a large Spanish university (63% women) on the use of emoticons and emoji and their interpretation. Results confirm the preference for emoji over emoticons. The responses also disclosed emerging norms on the use and functions of these pictographs in EMC: Emoji are considered more “expressive” than emoticons, and messages without these cues are judged as “rude.” Regarding the interpretation of emoji, the survey shows that it heavily relies on preexisting iconography, even if new visual conventions are developing.