Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Expressing Emotions In E-mail So As Not To Be Misinterpreted

Date:
November 28, 2008
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
How do people use emoticons, subject lines, and signatures to define how they want to be interpreted in email? The authors find that "a shift to email interaction requires a new set of interactional skills to be developed." Unlike face-to-face conversations, email interactions leave out tone of voice, body-language and context, which can lead to misunderstandings.

In a new article in the current issue of American Journal of Sociology authors Daniel A. Menchik and Xiaoli Tian (both of the University of Chicago) study how we use emoticons, subject lines, and signatures to define how we want to be interpreted in email. The authors find that "a shift to email interaction requires a new set of interactional skills to be developed."

Unlike face-to-face conversations, email interactions leave out tone of voice, body-language and context, which can lead to misunderstandings. While these authors agree that there are difficulties, they believe that no way of communicating is actually superior to another.

Menchik and Tian argue that face-to-face and internet-based contexts each require a set of distinct interaction strategies. "People can cultivate ways of communicating in online contexts that are equally as effective as those used offline," they write. "The degree to which … individuals develop unique conventions in the medium will determine their ability to communicate effectively."

The research focuses on "the case of a well-known scientific organization that decided to replace occasional meetings of a research panel with ongoing email interaction." The panel encountered numerous problems conversing via email. But the researchers identified several ways people were able to overcome these barriers.

"People innovate in response to the challenges of a new context for the communication of essential elements of language," the authors write.

Capital letters, use of quotations, emoticons, exclamation points, punctuation, bullet points, style and even color help the sender communicate the meaning of a word or message. For example, "I feel betrayed" reads differently from "I FEEL SO BETRAYED!! ;)" where the capital letters and winking smiley face indicate sarcasm.

Participants also maintained their conversational flow by cutting and pasting from previous emails and using subject lines that referenced previous discussions. In email listservs these devices help address comments to a certain individual and help the discussion to stay on topic.

Signatures, disclaimers and other information about the person's state of mind were also commonly used when writing an email. The authors found that subjects felt more comfortable communicating once they knew a little about each other, like the information included in a signature. They also found that indicating the frame of mind as a disclaimer, (i.e. "I wrote this at 5AM" or "on a blackberry while on vacation") helped prevent the email from being misinterpreted.

Developers have picked up on these cues with the advent of linguistic monitors such as Eudora's MoodWatch feature. This program tries to indicate to the sender that their email might be considered inflammatory, and to the receiver that they are about to receive such an email.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Expressing Emotions In E-mail So As Not To Be Misinterpreted." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125161537.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2008, November 28). Expressing Emotions In E-mail So As Not To Be Misinterpreted. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125161537.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Expressing Emotions In E-mail So As Not To Be Misinterpreted." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125161537.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

AFP (Apr. 19, 2014) The Nintendo Game Boy celebrates its 25th anniversary Monday and game expert Stephen Upstone says the console can be credited with creating a trend towards handheld gaming devices. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the company will use GPS data from the new Nearby Friends feature for advertising sometime in the future. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Announces Location-Sharing Feature 'Nearby Friends'

Facebook Announces Location-Sharing Feature 'Nearby Friends'

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Facebook's pending Nearby Friends feature will give users the option to share their nonspecific or specific locations with certain friends. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins