Can emoji shed light on human behaviour?
An emoji can say a thousand words, but can they mirror human emotion and body language while communicating in the virtual world?
Researchers believe there may be a possibility.
Given that more than 90% of internet users now use emoji to communicate through texts and emails, scientists want to figure out whether they can shed a subtle light on human behaviour in the same way that body language does.
“Research into the use and interpretation of emojis is in its infancy but it has already been shown that they serve important nonverbal functions in communication and can even provide an insight into the user’s personality,” says Linda Kaye, a cyber psychologist at Edge Hill University in the UK.
“Previous research has explored the neural processes in the brain and how this differs for sentences with and without emojis. Interestingly, those with emojis activated both the left and right sides of the brain.
“The right side is typically an area associated with the control of emotions, which suggests a different psychological response to emojis than in verbal tasks when typically the left side of the brain is primarily dominant.”
In a study published last year, Kaye identified some personality traits linked to people’s use of emoji.
One was that the people who used them tended to be more agreeable in nature, and second, they were more socially receptive and empathetic, making them more approachable.
Kaye says there is a need for us to study online behaviour.
She said: “If we can understand online behaviour, the way people think and behave then we could also potentially predict behaviour in the ‘real’ world.
“This is particularly important when considering deviance online and how we can use online data as screening tools to help predict or tackle criminal behaviour.”