(HOUSTON, Texas) — The folks over at Rice University, having apparently figured out everything else there is to know about everything, have turned their attention to those sometime grating graphic symbols called emoticons that have become an integral part of text messages.
In their must-read study, “A Longitudinal Study of Emoticon Use in Text Messaging from Smartphones,” Rice researchers have concluded that women are twice as likely than men to use the little facial expressions in texts.
The study was a thorough examination of 124,000 texts sent over six months by men and women. Just to make sure the research wasn’t skewed, the participants received free phones but weren’t told what the study was about.
What the researchers learned from the cellphone data culled over half-a-year was that all the participants at some point used emoticons in their text messages but that the expressions popped up in just four percent of all the texts sent.
And while as many as 74 emoticons were used over the course of the experiment, the symbols indicating happy, sad and very happy comprised 70 percent of all the emoticons sent.
Besides women using emoticons by a two-to-one margin over men, they were found to be more emotionally expressive in non-verbal communications. However, men use a greater variety of emoticons than women — whatever that means.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio