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Psycho emotional Impact of Social media Emojis

Authors:
  • Federal Medical College Islamabad

Abstract

METHODOLOGY: A questionnaire pertaining to psychological dependence related to the usage of emojis was designed. A total of 97 individuals participated in the survey, randomly selected from the work and educational institutes of Rawalpindi Islamabad, after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria. Percentage response of the participants to the questionnaire was compared. Chi square test was applied to analyze the association of time, gender, and age to the participants' response. RESULTS: Ninety percent of the participants rated emoji message more meaningful as compared to traditional texting. Forty-two percent considered emojis as strong, 17.5% as a very strong measure for emotion expression. Reflecting the psycho emotional dependency on emojis, 46% reported moderate, 21% strong and 18.5 very strong effects of mere presence or absence of emojis in digital messages. On missing an expected emoji from a sender, 47% claimed to suffer moderate level of negative mood effects while 6% reported very strong level of negative effect. Most of assessed responses in the study were independent of age, time spent on digital messaging and gender influence. However, emojis effectiveness for emotion expression, specific emoji expectation, and mood swings by usage or non usage of emojis revealed significant association to age, gender or duration of usage on chi square test. CONCLUSION: Digital emojis can render adverse psycho emotional effects on the users.
257
ABSTRACT
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the “potential psycho-emotional impacts of digital emojis on instant messaging applications users."
STUDY DESIGN: Survey research.
st th
PLACE & DURATION: Public and private work and educational institutions of Rawalpindi Islamabad, from 1 March to 10 August 2016.
METHODOLOGY: A questionnaire pertaining to psychological dependence related to the usage of emojis was designed. A total of 97
individuals participated in the survey, randomly selected from the work and educational institutes of Rawalpindi Islamabad, after
applying inclusion and exclusion criteria. Percentage response of the participants to the questionnaire was compared. Chi square test
was applied to analyze the association of time, gender, and age to the participants' response.
RESULTS: Ninety percent of the participants rated emoji message more meaningful as compared to traditional texting. Forty-two
percent considered emojis as strong, 17.5% as a very strong measure for emotion expression. Reflecting the psycho emotional
dependency on emojis, 46% reported moderate, 21% strong and 18.5 very strong effects of mere presence or absence of emojis in
digital messages. On missing an expected emoji from a sender, 47% claimed to suffer moderate level of negative mood effects while 6%
reported very strong level of negative effect. Most of assessed responses in the study were independent of age, time spent on digital
messaging and gender influence. However, emojis effectiveness for emotion expression, specific emoji expectation, and mood swings
by usage or non usage of emojis revealed significant association to age, gender or duration of usage on chi square test.
CONCLUSION: Digital emojis can render adverse psycho emotional effects on the users.
KEY WORDS: Emoji, Digital, Psycho Emotional.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE ISRA MEDICAL JOURNAL | Volume 8 - Issue 4 | Oct - Dec 2016
INTRODUCTION
Social media networking has encompassed the community like
an epidemic. Rising trends of messenger services and all that is
available at the fingertips (operating on smart phones) of the
community, has risen the intercommunication to a vulnerable
level.
According to a survey by Andrew Perrin “Social Media Usage:
2005-2015”, ninety percent of young adults were using social
media in 2015, as compared to 12% in 2005. This shows a 78%
increase in usage. Moreover, there has been a 69-point rise
among those ranging in ages from 30-49, rating as 8% in 2005 to
1
77% today .
With the advancement of digital communication and instant
messaging applications, use of emoticons and emojis has also
gained popularity.
An emoticon, is shorthand or of a facial graphic representations
2
expression allowing the user to express feelings or emotions,
and initiate a written message with non-verbal factors.
Emojis, on the other hand, are a step further. They are graphic
symbol, that portray not only facial expressions, but also
concepts and ideas. They can represent celebration, weather,
food and drink, and also emotions, feelings, and activities.
These “picture characters” or pictographs (emojis) are
commonly used in smartphone texting and social media
3
sharing and 4
have become extremely popular worldwide .
History of emojis date back to 1998, when Kurita took
inspiration from weather forecasts symbols. He created the first
180 emojis based on the live expressions exhibited by people
5
and other things that he observed in the city . The vast usage,
popularity and significance of emoji communication can be
judged by the fact that Oxford Dictionaries, global leader in
language, have instead of choosing a traditional word, chosen
an emoji, ('Face with Tears of Joy') as the word of the year-
6
2015 .
Casper Grathwohl, President of Oxford Dictionaries, has rated
emojis as flexible, immediate and rich form of communication,
7
that transcends linguistic borders .
Emojis have revolutionized the way we communicate. Today we
tend to use emoji to describe our feelings instead of using actual
words. Emojis have become a universal language Researchers .
have indicated that not only for its ease of usage and richness in
meaning, emojis are also adopted in digital communications
8
because they serve as socio-emotional providers .
The extensive daily usage, strength as a silent communication
tool, and potential to manipulate emotional aspects of the
consumer has led to the necessity of evaluating psycho
emotional impacts of emojis on its users. Therefore, this
questionnaire survey was designed with an objective to assess
the potential psycho emotional effects of digital emojis on
instant messaging application users.
PSYCHO EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA EMOJIS
1 2
NUSRAT ZAREEN , NOSHEEN KARIM , 3
UMAR ALI KHAN
1. Professor of Anatomy,
Al Nafees Medical College & Hospital,
Isra University, Islamabad Campus Pakistan
Master of Biomedicine2.
Ex Lecturer Northern Border University, Arar KSA
Professor of Physiology3.
Al Nafees Medical College & Hospital,
Isra University, Islamabad Campus Pakistan
Corresponding to:
Nusrat Zareen
Professor of Anatomy,
Al Nafees Medical College & Hospital,
Isra University, Islamabad Campus Pakistan
Email: nusrat.zareen@gmail.com
Received for Publication: 12-08-16
Accepted for Publication: 27-10-16
ISRA MEDICAL JOURNAL | Volume 8 - Issue 4 | Oct - Dec 2016
Nusrat Zareen et al.
258
relations. Ninety percent of the total participants rated emoji
message more impactful in its meanings as compared to 10%
who considered it no better than the traditional messaging.
Twenty-five percent of the users sent similar pattern of emojis
to all their contacts, while 75% used selective emojis based on
their relational ties. Regarding emojis effectiveness for
emotional expressiveness, 4% considered it a week measure,
36% as moderately effective measure, 42% as strong measure
and 17.5% rated it as a very strong measure for emotion
expression. On receiving an emoji, the message interpretation
level of the participants ranged from 2% having no influence, to
8% having weak, 36% moderate, 35% strong, and 19% very
strong influence. Sixty-two percent of the participants expected
specific emojis from contacts while 38% had no such
expectations from their contacts.
Regarding mood swings by receiving, or failing to receive any
expected emoji from a regular contact, 15% reported mild
mood effects, 46% moderate, 21% strong and 18.5 very strong
effects (Figure - 1).
Elaborating the negative mood change on missing an expected
emoji from a sender, 30% claimed to experience mild negativity,
47% moderate, 17% strong and 6% very strong level of negative
effect. Interpreting progressive or abrupt cessation of specific
regular emojis from a particular sender as an indicator of
deteriorating relationship, appeared to be strongly justifiable to
20 % of the participants, moderately justifiable to 55% and
weakly to 15.5% of the cases. Ten percent of the cases found this
interpretation not justifiable at all (Figure - 2).
Chi square test revealed a statistically significant difference in
response of different age groups regarding impact of emojis on
e- messages, emoji effectiveness for emotion expression, and
specific emoji expectation, with a p value of less than 0.05. Rest
of the responses in the questionnaire are independent of age
difference.
Also chi square test showed significant association of gender (p
value < 0.05), regarding response difference in terms of emoji's
effectiveness for emotional expression and mood swings by
mere usage or non usage by a particular regular contact. Rest of
the responses in the questionnaire were independent of gender
difference.
On assessing the effect of time spent on e-messaging, no
statistically significant difference was recorded in the responses
of the participants except for the specific emoji expectation
from any particular contact (p value < 0.05 on applying chi
square test- Table 2).
METHODOLOGY
A survey research was conducted in the public and private work
st
and educational institutes of Rawalpindi -Islamabad, from 1
st
March to 10 August 2016. A questionnaire was designed with a
brief biodata, including age, gender, education in years, and
occupation, followed by ten questions defining mood elements,
message interpretations, emotional impacts and psychological
dependence related to the usage of emoji in electronic
messaging during daily personal intercommunications. The
questionnaire, comprised of both open and closed ended
questions and was distributed in the local schools, universities,
government and private organizations. After applying inclusion
and exclusion criteria a total of 97 participants were randomly
selected for the study. All the subjects were briefed about the
questions, asked for participation consent, and interviewed
regarding their usage or non-usage of emoji, time consumed on
e-messaging, and their most frequent emoji recipient.
Individuals who were not using emojis; whose time
consumption for e-messaging was less than one-hour daily; age
was less than 15; or education less than 10 years, or whose
frequent emoji recipient were professional contacts only, were
excluded from the study.
Those who were above 15 years, user of emoji in e-
communications with daily consumption time of more than one
hour, whose frequent recipients were either blood or cordial
relations were included in the study.
The participants were inquired ten questions, with either a
YES/NO or a Likert scaling response. All the data was recorded in
SPSS version 24 software and descriptive analysis was done
calculating respective valid percentage response of the
participant pertaining to different questions.
Chi square test was done to analyze the difference in response
based on gender, age and time spent on e-messaging. A p value
of 0.05 was taken as significant.
RESULTS
Results of this study are summarized in Table – I.
Out of a total of 97 participants, there were 48 females, and 49
males. Thirty- nine percent were e- messaging daily for more
than an hour, 17% more than 02 hours, 24% up to five hours, and
19% more than five hours on different social media applications.
Of the total participants 19% were most frequently exchanging
emojis with their blood relations while 81% with cordial
TABLE - I: VALID PERCENTAGE RESPONSE (n = 97)
Age range: 15 & above years
Number of female participants= 48 (49.5 %)
Number of male participants=49 (50.5 %
ISRA MEDICAL JOURNAL | Volume 8 - Issue 4 | Oct - Dec 2016
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FIGURE-1: MOOD SWINGS BY ABSENCE OR PRESENCE
OF SPECIFIC EMOJI FROM A PARTICULAR SENDER
FIGURE-2: WITHDRAWAL OF A FREQUENT EMOJI FROM
DIGITAL COMMUNICATION DEPICTS RELATIONAL
ADVERSITY- JUSTIFICATION GRAPH
TABLE -II: ASSOCIATION OF SPECIFIC EMOJI EXPECTATION TO USERS' TIME SPENT ON INSTANT
MESSAGING ANALYZED THROUGH CHI SQUARE TEST.
*P value < .05 (Statistically Significant)
ISRA MEDICAL JOURNAL | Volume 8 - Issue 4 | Oct - Dec 2016
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text. The position of an emoji, and its textual context acts as an
3
amplifier and modifier of the meaning .
Mood swings related to presence or absence of emojis was also
strongly affirmed by the participants (Table - I). The intensity of
this mood swing was rated as strong or very strong by 23% of the
participants. The results of our survey are in the same lines as
reported by Petra et al in their emoji sentiment analysis report
of 2015. In their study they analyzed the interplay of the human
perception of tweets that are with or without emojis. On
experimentation, the report summarizes that mere presence of
emojis in social media messaging does has an impact on the
3
human emotional perception .
Similarly, a study in 2008 used structural equation modeling
(SEM) analysis, to assess the potential effects of emoticons,
specifically, on the relationships. Results suggested that
emoticons directly and significantly affected enjoyment, and in
11
turn personal interaction .
Further scientific studies also emphasize the influence of emojis
on message interpretation reporting negative emojis could
cause a negative effect and positive emoticons creating a
12
positive effect in complex communications .
Taking a step ahead, our study analyzes the reaction of real life
participants, on withdrawal of a previously received emoji from
a sender. If an emoji brought pleasure or enjoyment to the
receiver, could its cessation be interpreted as deteriorating
relation between the ones it was exchanged? Ninety percent of
the participants did respond in affirmation rating the inference
as justifiable in a range of moderate to very strong.
Scientists argue that emoticons, not only affect the viewers in
ways similar to facial expression but also trigger other unique
9
effects . Some of these unique effects as noticed in our survey
are expectation development of specific emojis from sender,
being selective while sending emojis (taking out time to
choose), and weighing relational ties on consistency of emojis
from the sender. Majority of the responses, in our study as well
as in the literature review, incline towards moderate to intense
emotional dependency on emojis. However, there are recorded
elements in our survey who reacted in a milder way regarding
emoji digital communication and its emotional influences.
Today scientists are reviewing the biological mechanisms for
emotions. Researchers are trying to answer compelling queries
as: How do individuals experience life emotionally? How come
people react so differently to same experiences? How health is
influenced by emotional experiences in significant social
relationships? Are there any basically similar emotions to all
14
humans?
Emoji are used alongside text in digital messaging, but their
graphic meanings are open to the users' interpretation. Some
people may interpret the nonverbal digital emoji differently
than others. According to Psycholinguistic theory interpretation
must be consistent between two individuals in order to avoid
3
miscommunications . However, the newly emerging emoji
language is very vulnerable to non-consistency of message
interpretation based on the personalities, emotional
attachment levels, relational importance and many other
behavioral factors interplaying between two individuals.
As interpreted by our results and in the light of previous studies
too, the emotional reaction to digital emojis is rising with the
DISCUSSION
This project had an objective to survey the users of e- messaging
facility of social media regarding the psycho-emotional effects
(if any) of digital emojis. A set of questions, which assess the
psychological impacts and emotional dependency & effects of
emoji usage were designed and the valid response percentage
calculated. The data obtained after the application of the
statistical tests were interpreted in the light of the literature
available from the previous studies.
Majority of the participants (90%) indicated an obvious
importance of emojis in e- messaging, rating emoji associated
messages more impact full in its meanings than the traditional
one. This high percentage credits the emoji creator Kurita, who
was influenced by real life expressions commonly used in daily
conversation. First 180 emojis were created, based on the
5
expressions that he observed people were making in the city .
This intentional simulation of the emojis to real life expressions
made it more convenient and impact full than traditional
message communication, a factor which is also reflected in
response of the study participants regarding this question.
In the current survey selection and usage pattern of the emojis
also reflect its utility and role in emotional, and cordial
relationships. These digital figures are mostly used amongst
cordial contact, with 81% of the evaluated cases using emoji
messaging to friends, spouses, fiancés, and emotionally
associated contacts. This high percentage figure points out the
expected message content related to the usage of emoji
regarding emotional communication.
Almost same inference can be drawn from the fact that majority
of participants (42%) considered and used emojis as a strong
marker of emotion expression. Whereas 36% rated it as
moderately effective mean, 17.5 % thought it was a very strong
mean of emotion expression. Also, the remaining 4% did not
exclude emoji completely, considering it as a weak modality
regarding emotional communication.
The art and science of emotion expression via face, voice and
language has long been postulated by Charles Dawin in 1872 in
9
his book “expression of emotion in man and animals” .
The results of our study points out a likely possibility that the
latest technology has added an expression modality of
emotions- “emojis”. In 2008, Derks et al. surveyed subjects'
motivation for emoji use and they found that emoticons and
emojis are mostly used to express emotion and to strengthen a
10
message .
Earlier scientists have reported that consumers with emoticons
used them and were more satisfied with the system than those
without emoticons. Thus it appeared as if users responded to
11
emoticons and interpreted them as intended .
All these theories satisfy the results of this current, real-life
survey. The importance of emojis in message interpretation can
be viewed by the fact that in our survey 98 % of the participants
acknowledged its significance in digital communication. Of
these, only 8% considered it a weak, as compared to 90% rating
it as moderate, strong, or very strong method for conveying
wordless messages.
In fact scientists are pointing out the future perspective
research regarding the interplay between the emojis and the
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261
LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A relatively smaller sample size of 97 individuals in our study can
be elaborated in future studies. More sensitive and focused
research is strongly recommended on this subject as it touches
the community directly, and has the potential to cause stress,
anxiety and depression. Keeping view, the heavy usage of this
modality, generalized counselling for targeted groups can also
be considered.
Contribution of Authors:
Dr. Nusrat Zareen: Study Designing, Manuscript Drafting.
Literature Reviews, Financing.
Mis. Nosheen Karim: Idea Proposal, Data Collection & Analysis,
Proof Reading.
Dr. Umar Ali Khan: Final Proof Reading
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15
the individual's ability to cope . When we have difficulty in
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16
person may not be the same for another person . Recent
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18
depressive episodes .
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19
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20
effecting the family and work environments and can reach as
severe as suicide. In this regards, attitude of different
individuals who fall on the extreme poles of the responses
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Analyzing the participants' response of the current project, in
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media emojis have a potential to cause stress and psychological
trauma. It seems to be equally forceful as face to face verbal
interactions with a disadvantage of more vulnerability of
miscommunications. A more careful and cautious usage of this
instant messaging advancement is recommended with due
weightage to the hidden message possibilities.
ISRA MEDICAL JOURNAL | Volume 8 - Issue 4 | Oct - Dec 2016
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