The Science Behind Emoji Sentiment Ranking

Dork Emoji

Dork Emoji

What does any particular emoji convey? In most cases, it is dependent on the context in which it is used. As it continues to infiltrate our daily online communication, we are becoming more aware of whether any particular emoji creates a positive sentiment or a negative sentiment. A recently published paper on PLOS One Monday showcased new findings on how positive, negative, or neutral a specific emoji conveys. Over 1.6 million tweets in 13 different European languages over a two-year period were pulled in order to analyze over 969 emojis. Upon their analysis, the four researchers’ new findings have essentially created an open sourced emoji library where other researchers can build upon for future analysis.

How The Researchers Went About Analyzing Their Emoji Data

In order to retrieve a better sample size, the researchers ditched emojis that were used less than 5 times, leaving them with 751 emojis to be parsed by their native speakers. The emojis were broken down between three sentiment levels: negative, positive, or neutral. The breakdown of sentiment was determined by an equation that calculated the level at which each emoji conveyed.

Below is a plot graph that shows emojis (bubbles) based on their sentiment score and neutrality level.
Emoji Sentiment Chart

The x-axis denotes the sentiment score where, as you go left, the bubbles show a negative sentiment. Bubbles to the right show a positive sentiment. At the zero mark, this is what researchers considered a neutral emoji.

See a more in-depth, visual breakdown of where emojis are on the sentiment scale in the graph below.

Plot A shows a snapshot of some of the negative emojis, Plot B shows neutral emojis, Plot C shows positive emojis. From the researchers findings, they found that the wrapped present emoji and kiss emoji shows the highest sentiment scores. Alternatively, the upset face emoji and crying kitty emoji show to be the lowest on the sentiment scale.

Surprising Findings From The Emoji Sentiment Ranking

  • The Neutral Face Emoji had a low sentiment score of -.38.
  • The Vertical Dash Emoji had an incredibly high sentiment score of .96.
  • Tweets that incorporated emojis were more likely to be interpreted correctly that those tweets with no emojis.

With over 1,200 Unicode emojis today, these little cartoon faces are becoming it’s own digital language. As a way to expand the way we communicate, tracking how we are supplementing our digital messaging is simply another developmental step in the online world.

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