Emojis can trigger different emotions in different people. You should therefore be aware that a message can be interpreted differently depending on the recipient.
A large part of our conversations nowadays takes place virtually – especially via chat apps such as Whatsapp or iMessage. It can sometimes be difficult to convey exactly whether a sentence is joking or serious. In real life, facial features and gestures would come into play at this point; when texting, the imagery of the emojis must be used. However, this can sometimes backfire if the emoji sent triggers a completely different feeling in the recipient than you actually intended.
According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE in Kaiserslautern, this is not uncommon. Especially when people from different generations text each other, misunderstandings happen again and again.
Often misunderstood emojis
According to the study, one of the most misunderstood emojis is the one with a mischievous smile. This can be understood in very different ways, from a condescending smile to a fake laugh to indifference
But the sequence of characters “</ 3” is also particularly troublesome for the various generations. While Generation Z thinks they see an ice cream cone in it, it means more of a broken heart. The reason for this is probably that such a symbol image is almost no longer used these days.
Basically, emojis can trigger very different emotions. According to Simon André Scherr, head of the study, people who were born in the 1960s find the teddy bear emoji extremely positive and describe that it makes them happy. Gen Z, on the other hand, is fairly neutral towards the teddy emoji.
With around 800 emojis that the study had people evaluate, it turned out, however, that around 93% of them have a clear assessment that is understood by more or less all people in the same way. But if you want to be sure not to be misunderstood, you should use one of these three emojis. Because these were consistently described as positive by all those questioned.
It becomes more difficult with pictures where it is not clear at first sight what emotion or intention is behind them. For example, it was new to many people that there was actually a villain behind an emoji that many consider a superhero. The emoji with a cowboy hat also leads to confusion over and over again. It does trigger positive emotions, but it cannot be restricted to a specific emotion, according to the study.
It also became clear that young people use more different emojis than older people. In addition, this generation uses them in a much more individualized and often out of context, as CNN reported. It is more and more common that the skull emoji is used as a sign of uncontrolled laughter or that the crying emoji is sent as a replacement for the laughing-crying emoji. Therefore, when sending emojis, you should always think of the recipient and carefully consider whether the person interprets the sent picture in the same way as you.