Using smiley faces and other emojis in work emails will actually have a negative impact, according to scientific research.
A new study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science has shown that using smiley faces in work emails have a massive impact on how your age, gender and competence are perceived.
Putting a smiley emoji in a work email could detract from the recipient’s perception of you and make them withhold information.
The study was conducted by researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, using 549 different people across 29 varying countries.
Three experiments were used to determine how people perceived receiving an email with a smiley face and without one.
In one of the three experiments, participants read emails with the scenario of a new employee reaching out to meet his or her new team; some of the emails included smiley faces, whilst some did not.
Participants rated the sender’s warmth and competence. Results showed that the smiley actually detracted from a person’s appearance of competence.
When the participants had people read emails that remained anonymous, the team assumed the sender was a woman if it included a smiley face.
Study author Ella Glikson commented in a statement: “In formal business emails, a smiley is not a smile.”
Additionally, when people read work-related emails with smilies, they were less likely to send a lengthy response: “We found that the perceptions of low competence, if a smiley is included, in turn undermined information sharing,” Glikson said.
Glikson went onto explain how sending a smiley in an email to show positivity is a common misconception:
“People tend to assume that a smiley is a virtual smile, but the findings of this study show that in the case of the workplace, at least as far as initial ‘encounters’ are concerned, this is incorrect,”
She continued: “For now, at least, a smiley can only replace a smile when you already know the other person.”
“In initial interactions, it is better to avoid using smileys, regardless of age or gender.”