Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Arts and Communication

First Advisor

Youngju Sohn

Second Advisor

Heidi Hatfield Edwards

Third Advisor

Charles Bryant

Fourth Advisor

Robert Taylor


While texting gains traction as one of the most prevalent forms of communication, emojis – small digital icons used to express emotions and represent faces, weather, animals, plants, activities, and more – have become popular substitutes for the visual cues missing from text-based communication. Despite their pervasiveness and proposed role in enabling users to perform the “emotion work” required for interpersonal impression and affinity development, the effects of emoji usage on perceptions of the sender are not thoroughly examined, especially outside of the workplace. The current study employs a self-administered, mixed experiment to determine the effects of emoji usage – specifically emoji valence, emoji type, emoji alignment, and sender type – on how likable and intelligent the receiver perceives the sender to be, as well as the receiver’s emotional connection to the sender. The study indicates that emojis are not inconsequential when it comes to social perception – although gender and relational attributes are important moderators of what is perceived as desirable for emoji usage. The findings have implications for improved digital impression management and contribute to a theoretical as well as empirical understanding of how emojis affect perceptions of the sender.


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Communication Commons