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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2008 Feb;11(1):99-101. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2007.9926.

Emoticons in computer-mediated communication: social motives and social context.

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  • 1Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands.


This study investigated the role of emoticons in computer-mediated communication (CMC). The study consisted of an online questionnaire about the social motives for emoticon use and an experimental part in which participants (N = 1,251) had to respond to short Internet chats. In these chats, the interaction partner (friend vs. stranger) and the valence of the context (positive vs. negative) were manipulated. Results showed that emoticons are mostly used to express emotion, to strengthen a message, and to express humor. Furthermore, more emoticons were used in communication with friends than in communication with strangers, and more emoticons were used in a positive context than in a negative context. Participants seem to use emoticons in a way similar to facial behavior in face-to-face communication with respect to social context and interaction partner.

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