Does the Frequency of Using Emoticons in Computer-Mediated Communication Signal Creativity?

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Abstract

Nowadays many human interactions take place in the virtual environment. To express emotions and attitudes in computer-mediated communication (CMC) individuals use emoticons - graphic representations of emotions and ideas. Contemporary applications serving computer-mediated communication (CMC) are provided with a broad spectrum of emoticons which may be used in communication. Variety of emoticons gives users of CMC an opportunity to create unique messages and express emotions in a creative manner. This study involved 275 online respondents and aimed to verify whether the frequency of emoticons use may be predicted by the three characteristics of creativity (creative abilities, openness, independence). Bayesian regression analysis showed that creativity does not predict frequency of emoticons use in CMC. No correspondence between creativity and frequency of emoticons use may be explained by pragmatic function of emoticons as they are used to communicate efficiently with an emphasis on the sender-recipient shared understanding of the emoticons meaning. What is more, robust popularity of communication applications leads to widespread employment of emoticons by CMC users. Therefore, with growing number of emoticons users’ creative individuals may seek less common means of expressing own creativity.

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