(Not) feeling up or down? Lack of evidence for vertical spatial iconicity effects for valence evaluations of emoji stimuli

Linda K. Kaye, Andrew K. MacKenzie, Sara Rodriguez-Cuadrado, Stephanie A. Malone, Jemaine E. Stacey, Ella Garrot

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A key question about the function of emoji is whether or not they are emotional. This is not yet fully established, and the literature presents mixed evidence. We used the Emoji Spatial Stroop Task to explore spatial iconicity effects based on vertical positioning of emoji. Emoji stimuli were presented in three vertical positions whereby participants (N = 87) made a valence evaluation. Accuracy and latency of responses were measured. A 2 (emoji valence; positive, negative) x 3 (vertical position; upper, lower, central) within-participants design was used to determine the impacts of emoji valence and position on accuracy and latency of valence evaluations. Responses were analysed in a 2x3 mixed effects binary regression with emoji valence and spatial congruency as fixed effects. No main or interaction effects of emoji valence and spatial congruence were observed. These findings challenge the assumption that we process emoji as symbolic objects that represent emotion concepts.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date5 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2023


  • Vertical positioning
  • Emoji valence
  • Spatial iconicity
  • Emoji spacial stroop task

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