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The Face of Online Information Processing: Effects of Emoticons on Impression Formation, Affect, and Cognition in Chat Transcripts
Unformatted Document Text:  Emoticons and Online Information Processing—2 e-mail conversations (Utz, 2000; Walther, 1992; Walther & D’Addario, 2001). This is somewhat surprising considering the ubiquity of emoticons in several online environments (such as chatrooms, IM threads, message boards) as also the fact that emoticons have progressed beyond being merely text-based and now showcase more human-like attributes by assuming cartoon-style expressions. Moreover, various theoretical frameworks—in addition to existing CMC perspectives—pertaining to notions of identity and self-expression suggest that emoticons can exert effects beyond impression formation to include affect and cognition as well. We attempt to provide a holistic understanding of the effects of emoticons by studying them in one of the most common online venues that facilitate self-expression, namely, chatrooms. A second goal of this study is to discern whether the effects of emoticons are contingent on the gender of the person using them. This goal is prompted by some research that has addressed gender differences of emoticons usage in terms of whether males use more emoticons than females, or whether a greater number of males (compared to females) use emoticons (e.g., Witmer & Katzman, 1997; Wolf, 2000), but which has also failed to examine whether differential attitudes and memory can be perceived when males, relative to females, use emoticons in online conversations. A final goal pertains to the influence of emoticons in different topic contexts. For example, some pronouncements have derided emoticons as trivial and lending a touch of frivolity to online communication, while other viewpoints indicate the benefits of using emoticons to approximate the warmth of FtF communication. Perhaps, emoticons may be perceived as appropriate in certain situations but not in others. We examine this possibility by varying the topic of a chat transcript in terms of a serious (e.g., health) issue versus a non- serious (e.g., entertainment) issue. In the experiment reported here, we assigned an

Authors: Kalyanaraman, Sriram. and Ivory, James.
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Emoticons and Online Information Processing—2
e-mail conversations (Utz, 2000; Walther, 1992; Walther & D’Addario, 2001). This is
somewhat surprising considering the ubiquity of emoticons in several online
environments (such as chatrooms, IM threads, message boards) as also the fact that
emoticons have progressed beyond being merely text-based and now showcase more
human-like attributes by assuming cartoon-style expressions. Moreover, various
theoretical frameworks—in addition to existing CMC perspectives—pertaining to notions
of identity and self-expression suggest that emoticons can exert effects beyond
impression formation to include affect and cognition as well.
We attempt to provide a holistic understanding of the effects of emoticons by
studying them in one of the most common online venues that facilitate self-expression,
namely, chatrooms. A second goal of this study is to discern whether the effects of
emoticons are contingent on the gender of the person using them. This goal is prompted
by some research that has addressed gender differences of emoticons usage in terms of
whether males use more emoticons than females, or whether a greater number of males
(compared to females) use emoticons (e.g., Witmer & Katzman, 1997; Wolf, 2000), but
which has also failed to examine whether differential attitudes and memory can be
perceived when males, relative to females, use emoticons in online conversations. A
final goal pertains to the influence of emoticons in different topic contexts. For example,
some pronouncements have derided emoticons as trivial and lending a touch of frivolity
to online communication, while other viewpoints indicate the benefits of using emoticons
to approximate the warmth of FtF communication. Perhaps, emoticons may be perceived
as appropriate in certain situations but not in others. We examine this possibility by
varying the topic of a chat transcript in terms of a serious (e.g., health) issue versus a non-
serious (e.g., entertainment) issue. In the experiment reported here, we assigned an


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