Positive vibes only: Forego negative texts or risk being labelled a downer

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A new study from researchers at the University of Ottawa’s School of Psychology has found that using negative emojis in text messages produces a negative perception of the sender regardless of their true intent.

Isabelle Boutet, a Full Professor in Psychology in the Faculty of Social Sciences, and her team’s findings are included in the study ‘Emojis influence emotional communication, social attributions, and information processing’ which was published in Computers in Human Behavior.

Study background: Eye movements of 38 University of Ottawa volunteer undergraduate student participants were tracked and studied, and the volunteers were shown sentence-emoji pairing under 12 different conditions where sentences could be negative, positive, or neutral, accompanied by a negative emoji, positive emoji, neutral emoji, or no emoji. With an average age of 18, participants were asked to rate each message in terms of emotional state of the sender and how warm they found them to be.

Dr. Boutet, whose research aims at understanding how humans analyze social cues conveyed by faces, discusses the findings.

He said, “Emojis are consequential and have an impact on the interpretation of the sender by the receiver and if you display any form of negativity — even pairing a positive emoji with a negative message — it is going to be interpreted negatively…

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