Emoji and emoticons: Do we mimic what we see?

In this episode, I talk with Dr Michael Philipp of the School of Psychology, Massey University in New Zealand. We talk about his recent study on emoji and emoticons in computer-based communications.

Michael’s original abstract can be found here on p.51:

Here is the abstract for some context:

Emoticons reduce semantic ambiguity and express emotional meaning in written communication. Our fluency in processing emoticons suggests they are more than mere symbols of feeling. Recent evidence suggests that emoticons are processed configurally–recruiting face-specific neural processes to make sense of their meaning. If emoticons are automatically processed as face stimuli, emoticons should elicit fast-onset facial mimicry expressions similar to those elicited by real emotional expressions. Using electromyography, the present study examines whether normal (mouth to the right) and inverted (mouth to the left) emoticons elicit different patterns of mimicry responses. Mimicry responses of the upright and inverted emoticons were compared to photographed emotional expressions. Mimicry activity for upright emoticons was most similar to photographed emotional expressions. Mimicry activity for inverted emoticons was reduced or non-existent. These findings support the notion that emoticons are cognitively processed as real, emotional stimuli.I hope you find our conversation interesting and thought-provoking.

You might also find this interesting, after we talked briefly about cultural differences in emoji  / emoticon use, especially if you are a New Zealander http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/320934/emotiki-aims-to-bring-maori-culture-into-digital-age

I’d love some feedback from you about the show.

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