A study finds
Signing off an email with a smiley face emoji may create frowns rather than the desired positive impact a study has found.
The study by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that including emoji’s, in particular the smiley face emoji, ‘may not create a positive impression and could even undermine information sharing.’
“Our findings provide first-time evidence that, contrary to actual smiles, smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence,” explained Dr Ella Gilkson a post-doctorate fellow at BGU’s Department of Management in the Guildford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management.
She revealed: “In formal business e-mails, a smiley is not a smile.”
“The study also found that when the participants were asked to respond to e-mails on formal matters, their answers were more detailed and they included more content-related information when the e-mail did not include a smiley,” she added.
“We found that the perceptions of low competence if a smiley is included in turn undermined information sharing.”
A series of experiments with a total of 549 participants from 29 different countries were conducted and found that while face-to-face smiles increased both competence and warmth, the smileys in an e-mail had no effect on the perception of warmth, and in fact had a negative effect on the perception of competence.
The study also revealed an element of sexism in emoji usage, as recipients were more likely to assume that the e-mail was sent by a woman if it included a smiley.
You may now want to rethink adding that seemingly innocent smiley face to the end of your work emails.