Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Sarcasm in written communication: emoticons are efficient markers of intention

Thompson, Dominic; Filik, Ruth


Associate Professor


Here we present two studies that investigate the use of emoticons in clarifying message intent. We look at sarcasm in particular, which can be especially hard to interpret correctly in written communication. In both studies, participants were required to make the intentions of their messages clear. In the first, they clarified the meaning of existing sentences without altering the wording; in the second, they produced their own sentences. Results provided clear evidence that tongue and wink emoticons are the principal indicators of sarcastic intent, and that ellipsis is associated more with criticism, rather than with sarcasm. These findings highlight the significant role emoticons play in clarifying message intention, compensating for the absence of non-verbal cues in written communication


Thompson, D., & Filik, R. (2016). Sarcasm in written communication: emoticons are efficient markers of intention. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 21(2), 105-120.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 10, 2015
Publication Date Mar 1, 2016
Deposit Date Mar 18, 2016
Publicly Available Date Mar 18, 2016
Journal Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Electronic ISSN 1083-6101
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 2
Pages 105-120
Keywords emoticons, irony, sarcasm, text messaging, CMC, language production, pragmatics
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations