A Preliminary Study of the Form and Status of Passionate Affection Emoticons
Ting-Ju Lin, Chien-Hsiung Chen


The development of communications technology has provided people with more diverse means for instant communication. Because transmitting text-only messages may not sufficiently express the emotions expressible through face-to-face communications, the design and use of emoticons play a crucial role in instant messaging. In this study, emoticons were divided into three forms (abstract/geometric, personified, and concrete) and two statuses (animated and static). A quantitative investigation and a qualitative focus group discussion were conducted to clarify the effects of the two factors on the usability of the emoticons. The results revealed that the forms of the emoticons were substantially associated with the emoticon status preferred by participants. The quantitative investigation revealed that when the form of an emoticon shifted from abstract/geometric to personified and subsequently to concrete, the status of the emoticon deemed suitable by the users also shifted from static to animated. Furthermore, the qualitative focus group discussion unexpectedly contributed the insight that the participants used particular emoticon forms and statuses in accordance with the timing/intimacy and targets of their conversations. Abstract/geometric and static emoticons were the most frequently applied in polite or emotionally calm conversations; personified emoticons were frequently employed in conversations with familiar people; concrete and animated emoticons were most frequently directed toward intimate people who shared resonating values and a sense of companionship with the participants. This indicated a positive correlation between the moods of users and the form and status, and timing/intimacy, of the emoticons used. In summary, when users select emoticons for use, the forms of the emoticons, the statuses of the emoticons, and the degrees of intimacy and resonance among the users of the emoticons are associated with one another.

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