Emojis are cute little things that many of us add in a text message most of the time without thinking about their interpretation or impact in emotional communication.
A new February 2021 study has found that using negative emojis in text messages produces a negative perception 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. You are going to be perceived as a person who is cold, angry, sad and you will come across as in a negative mood when using negative emojis, regardless of the tone or true intent.
Dr. Isabelle Boutet, a Psychology Professor at the University of Ottawa whose research aims at understanding how humans analyze social cues conveyed by faces, discusses the findings.
“Even if you have a positive message with a negative emoji, the receiver will interpret the sender as being in a negative mood. Any reference to negativity will drive how people interpret your emotional state when you write a text message.
“We also found certain types of messages were more difficult to convey; people have a lot of problems interpreting messages that are meant to convey irony or sarcasm.”
What does this tell us about texting vs. face-to-face interactions?
“People often try to control the emotion they convey with their faces to avoid social conflict. Yet people use emojis for fun without giving it much thought when, in fact, they have a strong impact on interpersonal interactions.
“The big question is do emojis act as proxies, do they engage the same mechanism as facial expressions of emotions that play a large role in face-to-face (FTF) interaction? With FTF interactions, we have — through evolution — developed very evolved mechanisms that process these facial expressions of emotions.
How can the use of emojis and their meaning be improved?
“You should not think that emojis are a cute little thing that you add in a text message and that it has no consequence on your interaction. Emojis have large consequence and strong impact on how your text message will be interpreted and how you will be perceived.”
What does this mean when trying to attract back your ex?
The faster you safely transition to face-to-face (FTF) interaction the better your chances. The emphasis is on “safely”. If you push for FTF interaction when your ex is not ready for the that next level, they may completely pull back or even decide that it’s probably not a good idea to have any contact.
Make sure you have laid a strong emotional foundation for asking for face-to-face interaction.