Publication details [#62731]

Riordan, Monica A. 2017. Emojis as Tools for Emotion Work: Communicating Affect in Text Messages. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 36 (5) : 549–567.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
SAGE Publications


Emojis are pictures commonly employed in texting. The use and type of emojis has grown in recent years; especially emojis that are not faces, but rather objects. While former work on emojis of faces proposes their main aim is to transfer affect, few have explored the communicative aim of emojis of objects. In this inquiry, two experiments evaluate whether emojis of objects also transfer affect. Different populations of participants are shown text messages with or without different emojis of objects, asked to rate the message’s affective content, and point out their confidence in their ratings. Overall results propose that emojis of objects communicate positive affect, specifically joy. These findings are framed in the sociological theory of emotion work, proposing that the time and effort involved in employing emojis may help preserve and enhance social relationships.