Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Kim Murza


The current study examined the use and interpretation of emojis by neurotypical college students through emotional recognition and social understanding and the implications for their use in supportive communication inside the classroom for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Emotional awareness and reciprocity are essential for establishing friendships and developing social skills. At this point, there remains limited research on the implications of emoji use for individuals with ASD and any boundaries that may be associated with emojis in social understanding and emotional awareness. The specific research questions that will be addressed in this study are as follows: (1) Is there a correlation between self-reported emotional intelligence and emoji identification accuracy? (2) Is there a correlation between degree of emoji use and emoji identification accuracy? (3) Are certain demographic characteristics (i.e., gender, age, years of smartphone use) related to emoji identification accuracy? A total of 101 undergraduate and graduate students completed a 53-item survey which included demographic questions, emoji identification tasks, and self-reported measures of emotional intelligence. Results indicated that there is not a relationship between an individual’s ability to correctly identify emojis and their level of self-reported emotional intelligence (r = .161; p = .131). Participants’ identification accuracy was not found to be related to degree of emoji use, gender or age (p > .05). However, the relationship between identification accuracy and years of smartphone use was found to be approaching significance (p = .051). The results provide preliminary evidence for future researchers to investigate whether there is a relationship between individuals with ASD’s emoji identification accuracy and emotional intelligence.

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