Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications Science

Culture Determines Which Emoticon You Use 251

Posted by Zonk
from the i'm-feeling-:/ dept.
Ant writes "A LiveScience story discusses the cultural differences in interpreting facial expressions. The article notes that where you come from plays a large role in what part of the human face you use to determine another person's mood. That also includes communicating online with the usages of smiley faces. 'For instance, in Japan, people tend to look to the eyes for emotional cues, whereas Americans tend to look to the mouth, says researcher Masaki Yuki, a behavioral scientist at Hokkaido University in Japan ... In Japan, emoticons tend to emphasize the eyes, such as the happy face (^_^) and the sad face (;_;). "After seeing the difference between American and Japanese emoticons, it dawned on me that the faces looked exactly like typical American and Japanese smiles," he said.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Culture Determines Which Emoticon You Use

Comments Filter:
  • by eln (21727) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:34AM (#19102277) Homepage
    So what culture am I a part of if I want to strangle someone every time they use any kind of emoticon at all?
    • by stsp (979375) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:37AM (#19102283) Homepage

      So what culture am I a part of if I want to strangle someone every time they use any kind of emoticon at all?
      Vogon.
    • The slashdot culture ;)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The league of grumpy old Slashdotters? <vbg>
      • Most of us old codgers just skim right past these doohickeys while reading - like becoming numb to flash adverts and such. Speaking of which, does anybody know of a firefox plugin to strip emoticons?

        Or, better yet, somebody make a parody page called Emotikhaaan [khaaan.com]! This would be a great way for you whooper snappers to educate some of us on your new evolutionary cryptic language - just crop in two of those thingies to alternate over Kirk's face. That would teach me two more right there. Get 'er done! Plus, I w
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:43AM (#19102311)
      I guess you're just old >:->
      But what I don't understand is why do you want to strangle people who use emoticon ? O_o
      I mean... it's just a way to communicate more efficiently ! :)
      Oh, boy... I'm so dead :(
      • Re:No emoticons? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by h2g2bob (948006) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @11:09AM (#19104467) Homepage

        I mean... it's just a way to communicate more efficiently
        That's right, they DO serve a purpose. Text is very easy to mis-read, especially if it contains sarcasm or jokes. Humans normally use facial expressions and tone of voice to convey this information, which isn't part of email or IM. Emoticons show this.
        • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Sunday May 13, 2007 @12:24PM (#19104909)

          Text is very easy to mis-read, especially if it contains sarcasm or jokes.

          <sarcasm>This sounds like a job for XML!</sarcasm>

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            It looks like you're trying to type an XML Document. Did you mean to write:

            <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
            <sarcasm xmlns="http://www.martinpayne.co.uk/humour/">
            <![CDATA[This sounds like a job for XML!]]>
            </sarcasm>
    • Re:No emoticons? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:43AM (#19102313) Homepage
      Case A: you are the culture that still reads the text, can understand a joke, can understand sarcasm, can use and read cultural associations including ones not just in your (or nerd) popular culture, can... What is even worse, you expect that from the people around you. If that is the case - you are an endangered animal in a world of TXT-abuse. You need to be entered in the red book of endangered species, towards the end, near the black pages.
      Case B: you need a break. Long one to restore your sense of humour.

      According to the good slashdot tradition I am not going to RTFA, but I will pitch in my 2c anyway. The observation is correct. If you look at eastern Europeans they use the ;-) much more than English or Americans, Brits tend to use the ROFL emoticon more and so on.

      Cheers ;-)
      • by Tim Browse (9263)

        Brits tend to use the ROFL emoticon more and so on.

        What is the ROFL emoticon? I'm British so I feel I ought to know it now.

        • by arivanov (12034)
          =))

          Supported on Yahoo Messenger (native and compatible clients). Very cool animation actually.
          • by Tim Browse (9263)

            Now I'm suspicious - nobody in the UK uses Yahoo Messenger, do they?

            You'll be telling me Brits use AIM next! :-)

        • Emoticon Classes (Score:2, Insightful)

          by camperdave (969942)
          What is the ROFL emoticon?

          Emoticons tend to fall into three classes. The first class is the sideways face emoticon, the kind where if you tilt your head to the left, you see a face. eg :-) or 8^\

          The second (newer) class of emoticons is the Japanese style, which is a horizontal rendition of the face: O_O (^.^)

          The third class is the abbreviation class, which uses abbreviations words, and pseudo html to convey the meaning. eg. ROFL [grin] </sarcasm>

          BTW, ROFL means Rolling On Floor, Laughing.

          • by freeweed (309734) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @11:05AM (#19104437)
            Um..

            Count me in the vast group of people that have been online well over a decade, are familiar with virtually all Internet terminology, and have never, EVER heard of "ROFL" being referred to as an "emoticon".

            Notice the term itself - emoticon. A portmandeau of "emotion" and "icon". The last part is a hint that there's something semi-graphical about it. Abbreviations don't exactly fit this term, in the slightest.

            In fact, use of things like ROFL and LOL pre-date the emoticon phenomenon in my experience. Heck, humanity was using abbreviations like this for years before we even had computers (KISS, FUBAR, etc). I don't think retconning them as emoticons makes any sense, and in fact you're the first person I've ever seen try to do that.
            • Welcome to the New World Order, where people born after 1985 have no clue about the origins of online computer culture.
            • Count me in the vast group of people that have been online well over a decade, are familiar with virtually all Internet terminology, and have never, EVER heard of "ROFL" being referred to as an "emoticon".

              I agree it's stupid, but some bastard forum software out there will do stuff like convert "[rofl]" to an animated smiley rolling back and forth, etc.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by tronbradia (961235)
            I can't really interpret those Japanese ones in the least.
      • by jez9999 (618189)
        I'm British and I use :-) all the time. People have noses!!!
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by FuzzyFox (772046)
          But people don't use their noses to communicate emotions.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cellocgw (617879)
            But people don't use their noses to communicate emotions.
            Let's see...

            "He wrinkled up his nose in distaste."
            "She walked around with her nose in the air."
            "The boy snorted with disgust."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "So what culture am I a part of if I want to strangle someone every time they use any kind of emoticon at all?"

      Lighten up.
    • I also used to think emitocons were silly frippery, a distraction devoid of information.

      After the N+1st flamewar on USENET, it slowly penetrated my conservative neanderthal brain that emoticons might actually have valid use: indicating tone-of-voice. Email/postings (incl /.) are very abbreviated, telegraphic, and intentions can easily be misread. Flamewars often result between participants who fundamentally agree. Homor usually falls flat without much greater context. An emoticon alerts the reader of

    • >So what culture am I a part of if I want to strangle someone every time they use any kind of emoticon at all?

      =)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      So what culture am I a part of if I want to strangle someone every time they use any kind of emoticon at all?
      Asperger's.
  • D'uhhhhhhhhh (Score:4, Informative)

    by Xtense (1075847) <xtense AT o2 DOT pl> on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:41AM (#19102303) Homepage
    Well, ain't it obvious? It's not like the Internet is some sort of global village or something...

    Oh, wait...

    Alas, if you think you saw emoticons, just google for Shift_JIS art, especially of the 2chan kind (there's some on en.wiki, but it's mostly the copy-pasted stuff). For what I know, that BBS is, and i quote, "f*****g huge". It's more than a subculture, but less than a culture of it's own. If i recall correctly, they've even written a book and have their Shift_JIS creatures roaming some japanese TV programs.
  • by asninn (1071320)
    That's interesting, because when I use emoticons, I generally tend to use the eye-emphasising forms - ^_^, ^.^ or even ^^. In fact, I'm using the first of these considerably less often than the latter two, where the eyes are even more prominent and all other facial features are reduced to just a single dot (representing the nose, in my interpretation) or removed entirely.

    It also depends on the context, though; the less personal the context is, the more I tend away from these emoticons. In very formal contex
    • by Mylakovich (1101285) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:47AM (#19102325)
      Interesting indeed! Facinating, even! What a unique and special person you are.
    • by tttonyyy (726776)

      That's interesting, because when I use emoticons, I generally tend to use the eye-emphasising forms - ^_^, ^.^ or even ^^. In fact, I'm using the first of these considerably less often than the latter two, where the eyes are even more prominent and all other facial features are reduced to just a single dot (representing the nose, in my interpretation) or removed entirely.
      Heh, I'm all for emphasising the fist in smileys, thus:

      (9-.-)9
  • by wumpus188 (657540) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:52AM (#19102335)
    (.)(.)

    I am a regular ./ reader and this one always puzzled me.
    • by thhamm (764787)
      lower: (_|_)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)
      /-{ }-\

      What does this one say about culture?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Panseh (1072370)

      For instance, in Japan, people tend to look to the eyes for emotional cues, whereas Americans tend to look to the mouth...

      Maybe Japanese actually spend time looking at the face, while Americans are looking somewhere else and catching a glimpse of the mouth by chance.

      The article reasons that Japanese attempt to suppress their emotions, but that cannot be the case. Looking into a person's eyes is very intimate interaction while looking at their lips would be more akin to hiding emotion.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jahudabudy (714731)
        Maybe Japanese actually spend time looking at the face, while Americans are looking somewhere else and catching a glimpse of the mouth by chance.

        Or maybe Americans actually spend time looking at the face, while Japanese are looking somewhere else and catching a glimpse of the eyes by chance. Or maybe it is a cultural difference; Americans look for emotional clues in the mouth, Japanese look for cultural clues in the eyes. Maybe someone should run a study to determine which of these theories has some sup
      • by kumanopuusan (698669) <goughnourc&gmail,com> on Sunday May 13, 2007 @08:57AM (#19103681)
        Sorry, but the parent isn't insightful, it's misinformation. What the article's author is saying is that the Japanese don't make big smiles. You've actually got it backwards.

        Japanese people don't spend a lot of time looking into other people's eyes. It makes people very uncomfortable. I've even been recommended, on more than one occasion, to look at someone's chest rather than their face. During conversation, it's important to look away from the other person occasionally. The practice has the odd effect of making Japanese people in Western countries sometimes appear unattentive or uninterested. During meetings at work, I'm often the only one even looking in the direction of the person who's talking.

        So, it isn't that Japanese people stare into each other's eyes all the time. His point is that Japanese people (especially the older generation) can be not very expressive about their emotions. Since they don't make big smiles or frowns, grimacing emoticons don't make sense. What little emotion is conveyed through the face is shown in a person's eyes. A greatly exaggerated version of this forms the Japanese smiley.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Raideen (975130)
          Things must be changing then. My relatives look directly into my eyes when speaking to me. It's true about the "older" generations (like my grandparents in their 90s) but my parents (in their 60s) crack jokes, smile brightly, and are visually expressive. The only time that I'm aware of that looking down is appropriate is when you're being submissive, like when you're being reprimanded by your boss or parents. I'm not saying that you're wrong--just that our experiences are quite different. However, I share y
      • Well, hmm, if emoticons are supposed to represent what you're looking at, then that gives me an idea: there should be an introverted nerd emoticon representing a pair of shoes. I dunno how to draw that in ASCII, though.
    • by plams (744927)
      Which part of your face is this?
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      What the hell is (.)(.) supposed to mean?<br><br>
      (.)(.)      (.)(.)       (.)(.)
            (.)(.)      (.)(.)

      Oh wait, OK, /now/ I get it. BRB...

    • What, you've never seen an owl before?
    • by Red Pointy Tail (127601) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @09:52AM (#19104013)
      (.)(.)

      I am a regular ./ reader and this one always puzzled me


      Everyone stand clear! Don't answer that one!

      It's a boobie-trapped question!
      • by DarkOx (621550)
        you pervert! When I looked at that I really though it was a pair of eyes where the whites were big, like they were wide open (surpized maybe). Now I all I see is tits, tits every where damn you, err ahh wait, THANK YOU!
  • by kahei (466208) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @04:01AM (#19102393) Homepage

    It would be instructive to consider the Internet's small but active flounder population, whose emoticons look like this: ..)

    Notice the distinctive adaptation to a 'flounder-like' way of percieving faces. Of course you may object that internet-using flounders are imaginary. As a matter of fact, that's an objection was raised even by many prominent flounders when the 'unicorn flounder' smiley was first circulated:

    -..)

  • by eklitzke (873155) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @04:29AM (#19102481) Homepage
    I'm a young college-aged student, and I've definitely noticed a shift towards Japanese style emoticons like ^_^ from my peers. Even among those who use the "sideways" emoticons, certainly you would never see :-) -- the hyphen is considered superfluous, and a simple :) will do just fine.

    Maybe I'm asocial, but because of this I've adopted the "retro" :-) style smilies, which seems to really bug a lot of my friends.
    • by coaxial (28297)
      I find myself using asian smilies with my friends from asia and western smilies with my american friends. I will say that the western smilies are quicker to type, but the asian ones are much more expressive. There really aren't any western smilies anyone can recognize beyond: :) ;) :( :| and :/
      but you can express frustration and resignation much easier with the asian smilies.

      ^__^
      -__-
      T__T ;__;
      -__-;;

      Interestingly, asian smilies always resembled the defunct bixies [code-knacker.de].
      • by Agripa (139780)
        I will say that the western smilies are quicker to type, but the asian ones are much more expressive. There really aren't any western smilies anyone can recognize beyond: :) ;) :( :| and :/ but you can express frustration and resignation much easier with the asian smilies.

        I have found myself using the western style with eyebrows added. Even in certain animation, the eyes are completely featureless but the eyebrows are drawn in for expression and not even attached to the face.

        >:(

        I guess that makes me an
    • Am I the only one who uses text emotions? *shrug* I guess that just makes me different. *smile*
    • by raddan (519638)
      It's funny what goes for "retro" nowadays. I suppose if you can't remember a time when the Internet didn't exist... Anyhow, I noticed a long time ago that my nose wasn't - shaped, so I've used a caret for as long as I can remember using smileys :^)
    • Classically, :) is the kid smile, while :-) is the adult smile. These communicate different things.

      I suspect most of your peers are less mature than you, and therefore get annoyed by the introduction of an adult smile. You can tell them I said so ;)

      Eivind.

    • by RogerWilco (99615)
      The :) smiley has somehow taken over from the :-) smiley, even forums like phpBB translate the :) into an icon, while they interpret :-) as text.

      I still prefer the :-) too, but then I've been using it since about 1993 now.
  • Triangle eyes (Score:3, Informative)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @04:35AM (#19102497)
    "...the happy face (^_^) [...] it dawned on me that the faces looked exactly like typical [..] Japanese smiles,"

    I've never seen a Japanese, or a human being bend his/her eyes in a triangle shape when smiling.
    Could it possibly something else?

    Japanese animes also show a character who's under stress having a huge cross attached right from his forehead, or suddenly disappearing eyeballs and long black dashes coming out of the characters face. Anyone seen that on an actual real human, or it just me.

    Smilies are an art, and while the way they ended up looking depend heavily on the culture of the people producing them (Japanese smilies follow closely the anime drawing style), I think saying they are strictly modeled after actual people crying and smiling is just a bunch of wishful thinking. Check some photos, an Asian guy won't smile quite a lot differently than a European guy.

    • Me too, I think (^_^) looks more like a cat.
    • I've never seen a Japanese, or a human being bend his/her eyes in a triangle shape when smiling.
      Could it possibly something else?


      Yes, it's the eyebrows. People often raise their eyebrows when they smile (or laugh...) and ^_^ is about as close as you can get. For example, here's Mr. Spock: ^_-
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dogtanian (588974)

      Japanese animes also show a character who's under stress having a huge cross attached right from his forehead, or suddenly disappearing eyeballs and long black dashes coming out of the characters face. Anyone seen that on an actual real human, or it just me.

      If you step back and take a detached look at Western (or more specifically, American-influenced) animation, you'll note that there are a number of conventions which don't really reflect reality per se. (For example, no-one ever had steam coming out of their ears when they got angry). It just happens that the Japanese ones look strange to you because you're not familiar with them.

      Humorous comics in general use a number of conventions and visual language which are almost second-nature to us- but only becau

    • by lawpoop (604919)
      Just like a mouth smile isn't the perfect arc of a parenthese, the changes in the eye of a true smile aren't a perfect angle. When you smile, the skin wrinkles up around the outside of the eye. This is what these shift-6 characters are representing. You can even have an 'eye smile' without very much going on with the mouth.

      Also not that a fake smile does not have the wrinkling of the eyes like a true smile does.
    • Japanese animes also show a character who's under stress having a huge cross attached right from his forehead, or suddenly disappearing eyeballs and long black dashes coming out of the characters face. Anyone seen that on an actual real human, or it just me.

      The "forehead cross" is a stylized throbbing vein.
      I have seen the non-stylized veins pop up on non-stylized humans in real life. Not sure what the other thing you describe is supposed to be, but it's probably a stylized version of something too.

    • I've never seen a Japanese, or a human being bend his/her eyes in a triangle shape when smiling.
      Could it possibly something else?


      While I agree with you in general, the point here is not the eyes, but the smile (mouth, teeth), not everybody in any culture smiles "with teeth" like Americans do, for example in my country when people smile they raise the corners of their mouth, they rarely show their teeth (unless they are laughing), it's not inconceivable that Japanese move their lips less then Americans when
  • by rbanzai (596355) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @04:37AM (#19102501)
    ... can't stop now!

    I first saw an emoticon when I started using Quantum Link (AOL before it became AOL.) I was in a chat room and was confused because now and then someone would end their sentence with ":D"

    Eventually I had to ask and someone wrote "look at it sideways."

    Using a few basic emoticons has become as natural to me as regular punctuation marks, and just like regular punctuation when it is used responsibly it clarifies and enhances communication. //misses his C64 ///with the BIG ol' 300 baud Vicmodem ///:D
  • The mouth lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @04:41AM (#19102515)
    It's easy to fake a smile. It's more difficult to fake happiness or amusement shown through the eyes. Some cultures recognise this.

     
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Madcapjack (635982)
      its especially easy to fake smiles on /.

      : )

    • It's easy to fake a smile. It's more difficult to fake happiness or amusement shown through the eyes. Some cultures recognise this.
      Do any culture recognize how easy it is to fake a smily?
  • >^_^< - Wolf or Fox

    >:8) - Dragon

    D: - Drama
  • Excuse me? Japanese smiilies tend to focus on the mouth more than the eyes. The ^_^ and similar emoticons are American used FAR more than Japanese used, since they have such a larger set of symbols they can make some much better emoticons.

    If Slashdot didn't rape Japanese I would post a few.
  • by SoVeryTired (967875) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @08:51AM (#19103635)
    As far as I know, this one is unique to Eroticon Six...

    (.)(.)(.)

  • by Guppy06 (410832)
    There's those of us who've played too much Final Fantasy XI and have apparently become quite fluent in both systems. >.>
  • I've often been made fun of for my casual use of a backward smile. If you assume that ":)" is the norm, which often translates to a smile image on forums, instant messages, and email, then my use of "(:" is backwards. I've even been told to "get your backward butt to smiley school, fool" by a friend on IRC many, many years ago.

    Is there a definitive direction for smiles? Not that it'll change my mind.
    • by CptPicard (680154)
      Isn't (: harder to type because ( is one key further to the center than )? (At least that's how it is on my Finnish keyboard)... it takes much more typing effort to be backwards, or perhaps I've just built :) into a reflex already through practice...
    • I've often been made fun of for my casual use of a backward smile. If you assume that ":)" is the norm, which often translates to a smile image on forums, instant messages, and email, then my use of "(:" is backwards. I've even been told to "get your backward butt to smiley school, fool" by a friend on IRC many, many years ago.
      Is there a definitive direction for smiles? Not that it'll change my mind.

      There's the standard way of doing it (from left to right, just like, *gasp* the way you write normal words, ya know, the direction in which your eyes go on the line), and the attention-whorish way of doing it "different". Free country, you can open your parenthesis at the end of your sentences if you absolutely must, but stop pretending like you aren't doing it wrong on purpose.

      Not that you'll change your mind, but your lame attempt at downplaying the norm while enumerating the many mediums that have this

  • by yulek (202118)
    for some reason this freaks people out -> (:
  • I was striked, the few times I've chatted with frenchmen (although I'm french), by how much they use emoticons, and mainly the sad and crying emoticons. That's pretty annoying actually.

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. -- Poul Anderson

Working...