A new study finds that we interpret emoji in vastly different ways—and when it comes to design, Microsoft is the biggest offender.
On one hand, I see complete euphoria. This guy has just won the lottery, or he’s laughing to the point where he can no longer breathe. On the other hand, I see pain. Guantanamo-level pain. The type of pain that accompanies a kidney removed without anesthesia.
This is Microsoft’s version of the “smiling face with open mouth and tightly closed eyes” emoji. And according to a new study spotted by Boing Boing and published by PhD students in the University of Minnesota GroupLens lab, it’s the most wildly interpreted emoji there is. On a 10-point scale, in which subjects ranked it on a scale of negative to positive feeling, it had a 4.4 point spread. About half of people saw it as positive, and the other half, negative.
And it just goes to show—with apologies to my fellow millennials—that using emoji as shorthand to explain your emotions can be very tricky business. It’s part of an even bigger problem that the researchers call “emoji font diversity,” and researchers at GroupLens, which focuses on the study of technologies like online communities and mobile platforms, wanted to learn not only how differently we interpret the same emoji, but how emoji texted from iPhone to Android to Windows Phone can have their meaning changed through this very literal game of telephone.
Video from Buzz60/Inform.com – Emoji are part of the way we communicate these days but as Gillian Pensavalle (@GillianWithaG) explains, when people are using different platforms things can get confusing.