Their Ignobel Prize Awaits: The study of emojis

Nature has published a study on emojis.  This could be a prime candidate for the Ignobel Prize this year.   The study classifies emojis in two ways:

valence: positive or negative emotional expressions

arousal: how the emoji is interpreted or responded to

The range of emojis, their meaning, and how seriously each is taken.  Which makes me wonder why this was even done to begin with.

Classification of 74 facial emoji’s emotional states on the valence-arousal axes


Emojis are frequently used by people worldwide as a tool to express one’s emotional states and have recently been considered for assessment in research. However, details regarding the ways in which they correspond to human emotional states remain unidentified. Thus, this study aimed to understand how emojis are classified on the valence and arousal axes and to examine the relationship between the former and human emotional states.


Based on our findings, the fact that emojis can display human emotional states in considerably greater detail than reported previously will accelerate their use in research fields such as consumer studies that can benefit from evaluating these states. This is because the traditional text-based methods can be taxing for the participants, and emojis are considered an easier way to examine human emotional states. In addition, the latter may have the advantage of being less impacted by the participants’ native language than the former. However, this study, as well as prior research on human emotional states expressed by emojis, have many limitations, which are discussed below. Further research is warranted to deepen our understanding of the relationship between emojis and human emotional states; nevertheless, our findings would further increase emoji use in various research areas where human emotional states need to be assessed.


  1. invivoMark says

    Lookit those error bars!

    From them, we can infer that a not-insignificant number of people interpret the “rolling on the floor laughing” emoji as having a negative valence.

    I think any attempt at interpretation of the results will be impeded by the fact that some people are just bad at understanding emojis.