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Is an Emoji worth a thousand words? The effect of Emoji usage on nonprofessional investors’ perceptions

Hilda E. Carrillo, PhD Pennington, R. Zhang, Y.
Journal of Information Systems. December 6, 2021

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Abstract

Emojis act as non-verbal cues to disambiguate and communicate affect and are increasingly used in online corporate disclosures. Emotion work, a concept founded in social psychology, suggests that individuals adjust their behavior as emotions are evoked or suppressed. Despite the growing evidence that emojis may influence judgments and decisions due to their deliberate expression of context and affect, the accounting research community has yet to investigate emojis’ impact. We experimentally explore whether emojis can soften nonprofessional investors’ perceptions of bad news or enhance perceptions of good news. We find that emojis modestly suppress participants’ positive emotions on positive news, influencing their investment-related judgments and decision-making. Subsequent data collection fails to replicate the initial findings in a less experienced participant pool, suggesting that investing experience may play a role. Our study enhances our understanding of the unintended consequences of emojis and introduces a sociology-based principle into the accounting literature.

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