The Emoji Spatial Stroop Task: Exploring the impact of vertical positioning of emoji on emotional processing

Linda K. Kaye, Gemma M. Darker, Sara Rodriguez-Cuadrado, Helen J. Wall, Stephanie A. Malone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Despite emoji often being assumed to be a form of emotional communication, the emotional affordances of these are not yet fully established. The current study employed the Emoji Spatial Stroop Task to explore whether spatial iconicity affects semantic-relatedness judgments relating to emoji stimuli. Namely, emoji stimuli were displayed in various vertical positions and valence perceptions were measured. A 3 (emoji valence; positive, negative, neutral) x 3 (vertical position; upper, lower, central) within-participants design was used to determine the impacts on valence perceptions. Valence perceptions were obtained from ratings on how positive/ negative participants perceived stimuli to be on an 11-point Likert scale (-5 negative, 0 neutral and +5 positive). Findings from 157 participants revealed that, after controlling for current mood, both emoji valence and their vertical positioning impacted significantly on valence ratings. The valence x positioning interaction effect was also significant, highlighting a congruence effect whereby positive emoji in higher vertical space were rated significantly more positively than when in central or lower space, and negative emoji were rated significantly more negatively when displayed in lower vertical space compared to central or upper space. These congruence effects suggest we may embody emoji as symbolic objects to represent abstract emotional concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107267
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date10 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2022


  • emoji valence
  • vertical positioning
  • Spatial Stroop
  • Emoji Spatial Stroop Task


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