E-mail Receiver and Sender Factors That influence Emoticon Perception and Use
As mentioned previously the use of emoticons is not being used wide-spread (Rezabek & Cochenour, 1998). Although emoticons are not used widespread, there are some differences in use based on sender and receiver characteristics and settings of the communication. Factors such as gender, age, and sender-receiver relationship can all have an effect on how e-mail is used and how messages are perceived (Byron, 2008). In this section we explore those differences.
The use of e-mail and emoticons varies greatly based on the sender and the receivers ages. Millennials, those born after 1980, will be much more likely to use emoticons then older generations (Krohn, 2004). Millennials are use to a fast changing environment and adapt quickly to the changing world. Therefore they are comfortable using emoticons in personal and professional use(Krohn, 2004).
Krohn (2004) says that the oldest generations of workers, Traditionalist, which are those born before 1946, have set values and take comfort in traditional ways of doing things. Therefore, they are unlikely to quickly adopt new and changing methods of doing things. Because they have traditional views, older generations are more likely to suppress emotions in e-mail and stick to the business at hand then to openly express it, or use emoticons in e-mail (Byron, 2008). Byron (2008) also found that “older individuals are less accurate at emotion perception” (p. 317) from others. So even if others send individuals e-mails that convey emotion, they are less likely to interpret the e-mails accurately.
Along with these two groups Krohn (2004) also identified two other categories in the work force, Baby Boomers, which were born between 1946 and 1964, and Generation Xers, which were born between 1964 and 1980. Baby Boomers will align more with the Traditionalist category and are less likely to use emoticons. However, Generation Xers will more likely align with Millennials, as they too have been influenced by the ever changing world of technology and are more likely to use emoticons then the older generations.
Overall, age does influence whether individuals will use emoticons or not. Younger generations adapt quickly to ever changing technology and grasp new ways of communicating via technology quickly. Therefore, they are more likely to be comfortable and feel natural using emoticons then the older generations. Although a sender may be comfortable with using emoticons, they need to keep their receiver’s age in mind. If the receiver is in one of the older generations, chances are they will not appreciate and will likely misinterpret any emoticons that are used in e-mail communication.
Much of the previous research done on gender communication has been focused on face-to-face communication. Witmer and Katzman (1997) build upon the research of Tannen (1990, as cited by Witmer & Katzman, 1997) which says women...