This study will make you think twice about using emojis in your work emails

You may think signing off your work email with a smiley emoji may be a friendly gesture on your part, but apparently, it might do your image more harm than good.

According to researchers in Israel, using emojis in your work emails might make your colleagues think you are not as competent.

“Our findings provide first-time evidence that, contrary to actual smiles, smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence,” said study author Dr Ella Glikson, of Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev.

“In formal business emails, a smiley is not a smile.”

(Matt Alexander/PA)

Researchers from BGU, the University of Haifa and Amsterdam University conducted a series of experiments with 549 volunteers.

Participants, who hailed from 29 different countries, were asked to read similar work-related emails from strangers and evaluate their warmth and professional competence.

The emails were of a very similar nature – but some of them included smiley emojis.

Surprisingly, they found that smiley emojis had no impact on people’s perceptions of friendliness. However, the use of emojis made the study subjects question the sender’s competence.

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“The study also found that when the participants were asked to respond to emails on formal matters, their answers were more detailed and they included more content-related information when the email did not include a smiley,” said Dr Glikson.

“We found that the perceptions of low competence if a smiley is included in turn undermined information sharing.”

In addition, the study also revealed that when the gender was unknown, recipients were more likely to presume that emails that included smiley emojis were sent by women.

Emoji  keyboard.
(TPopova/Getty Images)

“People tend to assume that a smiley is a virtual smile, but the findings of this study show that in the case of the workplace, at least as far as initial ‘encounters’ are concerned, this is incorrect,” Dr Glikson said.

“For now, at least, a smiley can only replace a smile when you already know the other person.

“In initial interactions, it is better to avoid using smileys, regardless of age or gender.”

The research is published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.


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