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New Israeli Research: Smiley Emojis Can Do Harm

Is there any subject an Israeli has not researched?

Smiley faces may seem benign, but typing them in work emails may be doing more harm than good.

In a new study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel wanted to find out whether including smileys in work emails actually has an effect on the message. “:)” really does make an impression, they found out—but not the friendly feeling an email writer may intend.

Instead, reading a happy face in the text of a work email made people think that the sender was less competent if the same message did not contain the emoticon, the researchers found. Even though smiles communicate warmth and competence in person, a smiley could make the reader less likely to share as much information in their reply.

“Our findings provide first-time evidence that, contrary to actual smiles, smileys only marginally increased perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence,” said Ella Glikson, one of the study’s authors and a post-doctorate fellow at the BGU Department of Management, in a press release. “In formal business e-mails, a smiley is not a smile.”

The researchers conducted three experiments with 549 people from 29 countries.

In one experiment, people read an anonymous work email and then evaluated that person based on their competence. Overall, messages without smiley faces led people to believe the sender was more competent than the same emails with added smileys.

Message to Israel haters: I encourage you to boycott the results of this research and continue peppering your work emails with smiley emojis.

P.S

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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