Emojis as heuristic cues: The multifaceted role of emojis in online service interactions

Saleh Shuqair, Diego Costa Pinto, Márcia Maurer Herter, Anna Mattila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent technological advances have allowed businesses to adopt emojis when interacting with consumers. To gain in-depth theoretical and managerial insight into this trend, five pre-registered studies (1 field observation and four controlled experiments) indicate that emojis in digital communication work as heuristic cues that might have a differential effect depending on elaboration likelihood and outcome valence. Drawing on the Heuristic Information Processing and elaboration likelihood model, this research reveals that emojis can systematically influence consumers' elaboration. Findings indicate that low elaboration in positive encounters results in a positive heuristic cue boost (emojis improve customer evaluation). In turn, high elaboration on negative service outcomes makes the heuristic content relevant, such that positive (vs. negative) emojis will bring attention to and reinforce the interaction's positive (vs. negative) aspects. This research contributes to emerging studies on the role of emojis in digital communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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