Conversation-ender: Pure positive emoticons reply leading to rejection

Yuen Ho LAM

Research output: ThesisBachelor's Theses


Objectives: This study aims to investigate the sense of rejection regarding different types of responses in computer-mediated communication (CMC). Emoticons can induce negative emotional experiences on the message recipients, depending on the types of responses. Due to the ambiguous intention of pure emoticon messages and insufficient emotional information exchange, receivers are more likely to interpret the messages negatively and perceive rejection from the emoticons. Methods: 134 participants (69 men; mean age = 21.28 years, SD = 2.12 years) were randomly assigned to three conditions and instructed to imagine that they received different types of responses from their friends. After the situation, they were asked to complete a set of questionnaire to report how much empathy they perceived from the friend and their own sense of rejection. Results: Results showed that 1) receivers who received a single smiley emoticon perceived less empathy from the senders and experienced a greater sense of rejection than receiving no reply or receiving text reply; and 2) perceived empathy mediated the relationship between types of responses and sense of rejection. Conclusions: Findings suggested that CMC users interpreted the single emoticon message as a kind of rejection because they thought the interaction partner could not empathize their emotion in the conversation. Misuse of positive emoticons can create aversive effects on receivers. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationBachelor of Social Sciences (Honours)
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • POON, Kai Tak 潘啟德, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Emoticons
  • Sense of rejection
  • Perceived empathy
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (BSocSc(Psy))--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2016.


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