A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Computer-Mediated Communication, Emojis and Trust

49 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016 Last revised: 3 Dec 2019

See all articles by J. Jobu Babin

J. Jobu Babin

Department of Economics and Decision Sciences, Western Illinois University

Date Written: November 11, 2016

Abstract

Communication is critical for economic cooperation and enhancement of trust. This becomes provocative in a digitally-oriented world. This paper reports the results of an experiment involving text messaging and emojis in laboratory trust games executed on mobile devices. Employing linguistic analysis and an emoji-classification coordination game to decompose chat logs, I find that trust increases dramatically with the introduction of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to one-shot games, while reciprocation increases only modestly. While promises matter when using text, there are greater welfare gains associated with emoji use, largely to the benefit of trustees. There is evidence that affective content, skin tone, and gender signals embedded in emojis impact sharing – suggestive of statistical discrimination. Receiving a dark skinned emoji has negative effect on trust for both light and dark skinned players, a result in conflict with some in-group literature. An emoji suggestive of a female counterpart garners more trust. In this way, computer-mediated communication leads to reduced gains for dark-skinned persons and increased surplus for women. These results highlight the complex social judgment that motivates trust in a anonymous counterpart.

Keywords: Investment Game, Emoji, CMC, Trust, Linguistic Analysis, Experiment, Stereotypes

JEL Classification: C78, C91, C92, D8, D63, D71

Suggested Citation

Babin, J. Jobu, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Computer-Mediated Communication, Emojis and Trust (November 11, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2883578 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2883578

J. Jobu Babin (Contact Author)

Department of Economics and Decision Sciences, Western Illinois University ( email )

Macomb, IL 61455
United States

HOME PAGE: http:// https://sites.google.com/site/jobubabin/

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