The present study experimentally examines the impact of emoticons on message interpretation among secondary school students (N = 105). Furthermore, perceived motives for emoticon use are examined. Results show that emoticons do have an impact on message interpretation. Emoticons are useful in strengthening the intensity of a verbal message. Furthermore, it is possible to create ambiguity and express sarcasm online by varying the valence of the emoticon and the valence of the message. Overall, the authors conclude that to a large extent, emoticons serve the same functions as actual nonverbal behavior.

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Keywords Computer-mediated communication, Emoticon, Message interpretation, Motives
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Journal Social Science Computer Review
Derks-Theunissen, D.A.J.A, Bos, A.E.R, & von Grumbkow, J. (2008). Emoticons and online message interpretation. Social Science Computer Review, 26(3), 379–388. doi:10.1177/0894439307311611