Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Autumn Edwards

Second Advisor

Dr. Chad Edwards

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Propp

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Text-messaging is among the most popular forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC). However, the lack of most nonverbal cues in text-messaging interaction limits communication in certain contexts. Some recent innovations, such as emoji, attempt to enhance nonverbal limitations in text messaging. However, despite ample scholarship in text messaging, nonverbal communication, and CMC, a smaller body of research explores their intersections. This study reviews literature in these areas and, through the lens of Media Richness Theory, offers several hypotheses regarding the effects of emoji on interpersonal impressions in a decision-making scenario. It then experimentally tests and quantitatively measures how emoji usage in decision making impacts perceptions of message source interpersonal attractiveness, CMC competence, and credibility. Results demonstrate that sources of text-messages are rated as more CMC competent when they employ emoji than when using verbal-only messages. There were no significant differences in ratings of source interpersonal attractiveness or credibility on the basis of emoji or emoticon message enhancement, but that may be a function of sample size. Implications for theory and practice, research limitations, and directions for future study are discussed.

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