The Persuasive Power of Emoticons in Electronic Word-of-Mouth Communication on Social Networking Services

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Publication History

Received: June 18, 2019
Revised: December 31, 2020; November 23. 2021; June 21, 2022
Accepted: July 28, 2022
Published Online as Articles in Advance: May 16, 2023
Published Online in Issue: June 1, 2023

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Emotional expressions are ubiquitous in electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) communication, but their effect on eWOM persuasiveness and the underlying mechanisms in the context of social networking services (SNS) have been underexplored. This research focuses on an extensively used nonverbal emotional cue in computer-mediated communication—the emoticon. Drawing on the emotion as social information model (EASI), we propose a conceptual framework to understand whether, how, and when emoticons influence the persuasiveness of eWOM on SNS. Results from a field experiment and a series of online experiments show that emoticons can increase eWOM persuasiveness through the mediating effects of enhanced recipient empathy and trust toward the sender and that these effects vary across situations. Specifically, the persuasive effect of emoticons occurs for both positive and negative eWOM when recipients and senders are close to each other. However, this effect occurs only for negative eWOM when recipients and senders have distant relationships. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings and identify several opportunities for future research.

Additional Details
Author Lingyun Qiu, Weiquan Wang, and Jun Pang
Year 2023
Volume 47
Issue 2
Keywords Emotional expression, nonverbal cues, emoticons, social networking services, electronic word-of-mouth, persuasion
Page Numbers 511-534
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