IS GENDER THE PRIMING FACTOR? EXAMINING EMOJI USERS’ BEHAVIORIN WECHAT AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN CHINA
Keywords:Emoji, Uses and Gratifications Theory, Computer Mediated Communication.
Nonverbal cues, such asemoji or emoticon, enjoy increasing popularity in computer mediated communication (CMC). These elements are used to compensate for the limited emotional expression lacked from face-to-face communication. Emoji, for example, has thus become a new medium to communicate and express emotions in CMC. WeChat, WhatsApp, Line, and other micro-messaging apps provide platforms for the frequent use of emoji in daily communication, especially among youngsters such as university students. This article sets out to explore emoji users’ behavior, motivation, and the determinants. As a result, the article focuses on the following three key areas. First, it examines emoji users’ real-life behavior from 96 university students’ 7-day WeChat data. Second, it organizes answers from open-ended questionnaires by these 96 students and concludes three major motivations of emoji use. Last, it attempts to understand if individuals’ demographic differences, especially gender, constitute a major factor in illustrating emoji users’ behavior and motivation. The article adds a new dimension to the original framework of uses and gratification theory by combining individual factors to understand the factors influencing one’s emoji usage and motivation. This research made a relatively detailed analysis into emoji usage, including not only the frequency, choice, location, variety and times of repetition of emoji but also the participants’ chat partner’s gender and their relation status.
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