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Are You Fluent In Sexual Emoji?😉: Exploring The Use Of Emoji In Romantic And Sexual Contexts

Samantha Thomson, Emily Kluftinger, Jocelyn Wentland

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This research presents an exploratory study of how individuals use emoji, specifically in sexually suggestive contexts. Emoji are small images that depict emotions, concepts, or items that are used in computer-mediated communication in order to add context, emotion, and personality to messages. The dataset consists of 693 participants recruited via online social networks and forums. Results indicate that the use of emoji play a significant role in the sending and receiving of sexually suggestive messages; of individuals who have sent these messages, 51% report that the use of emoji led to the sexually suggestive behaviour and 54% report that emoji appear in their messages sometimes, often, or always. The three most common object emoji last sent and received in a sexually suggestive message are the tongue (👅), the eggplant (🍆), and the sweat droplets (💦), while the three most common face emoji last sent and received in this context are the smirking face (😏), the winking face (😉), and the blowing a kiss face (😘). Additionally, this study demonstrates that extraversion and number of casual sexual partners is significantly related to the use of sexually suggestive emoji, as both extraversion and numbers of casual sexual partners account for 5.9% of the shared variance in the use of sexual emoji. This research provides empirical information that may be used to guide future research into the use of emoji in computer-mediated communication.