Does substituting words by emoji affect reading? Evidence from word recognition, sentence comprehension, and text reading

  • Kharlamov, N. (Speaker)
  • Alexander Flyvholm Povlsen (Other)
  • Kasper Horslev Ravnkilde (Other)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Emoji are graphic symbols that represent emotions and objects and are often used in textual communication, such as instant messaging. While using emoji at the end of sentences as emotional accents is not new, smartphone software has recently incorporated the possibility to substitute individual words in sentences with emoji, providing suggestions for the user to do so. Such substitution creates sentences that mix words and symbols in traditionally alphabetic languages such as English and Danish, thus introducing a logographic component.
We present evidence from three experiments using word-emoji substitution with adult native speakers of Danish with no known reading difficulties. Experiment 1 used single word or emoji recognition task, and measured recognition errors and times. We also used remote eye tracking in reading and comprehension tasks, with different emoji positions in sentences (Experiment 2), and word-emoji substitutions in sentences and short texts (Experiment 3). Measures included fixation durations, skipping and back tracking, as well as overall reading speed and comprehension.
Our findings suggest that word-emoji substitution does not markedly change the core properties of reading process. We discuss the implications of these results in context of E-Z Reader model of eye movement control during reading, and the apparent robustness of alphabetic reading process to inclusion of logographic symbols.
PeriodAug 2019
Event title20th European Conference on Eye Movements
Event typeConference
Conference number20
LocationAlicante, SpainShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • eye tracking
  • eye movements
  • reading
  • emoji
  • Human-Computer Interaction