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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference

How Helpful Are Emoticons? The Moderating Roles of Review Valence and Review Format

Published: May 28, 2019


Guei-Hua Huang, National Sun Yat-sen University; Chun-Tuan Chang, National Sun Yat-sen University


emoticon; electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM); online review


Evidence shows that visual cues accompanying verbal descriptions can affect how consumers perceive and process information. This study argues that visually attractive emoticons which convey emotions will facilitate or interfere with online review readers’ information processing strategy, depending on review valence (positive and negative) and review format (narrative-based vs. list-based). Two laboratory experiments, one eye-tracking analysis and one real-life field data are employed to test the proposed predictions. The findings show that emoticons in positive narrative-based reviews increase review helpfulness, but emoticons shown in positive listed-based reviews decrease review helpfulness. However, emoticons in negative narrative-based reviews decrease review helpfulness, but they become more helpful in negative list-based reviews. This research offers theoretical contributions to the eWOM studies and information processing literature. Practical implications are also provided.