Journal publication

The Meaning of Emoji to Describe Food Experiences in Pre-Adolescents

Foods ; Volume 9(9). p. 1307

Sick, Julia; Monteleone, Erminio; Pierguidi, Lapo; Ares, Gaston; Spinelli, Sara;

Ongoing research has shown that emoji can be used by children to discriminate food products, but it is unclear if they express emotions and how they are linked to emotional words. Little is known about how children interpret emoji in terms of their emotional meaning in the context of food. This study aimed at investigating the emotional meaning of emoji used to describe food experiences in 9–13-year-old pre-adolescents and to measure related age and gender differences. The meaning of 46 emoji used to describe food experience was explored by: mapping emoji according to similarities and differences in their emotional meaning using the projective mapping technique, and linking emoji with emotion words using a check-all-that-apply (CATA) format. The two tasks gave consistent results and showed that emoji were discriminated along the valence (positive vs. negative) and power (dominant vs. submissive) dimension, and to a lower extent along the arousal dimension (high vs. low activation). In general, negative emoji had more distinct meanings than positive emoji in both studies, but differences in nuances of meaning were found also among positive emoji. Girls and older pre-adolescents (12–13 years old (y.o.)) discriminated positive emoji slightly better than boys and younger pre-adolescents (9–11 y.o.). This suggests that girls and older pre-adolescents may be higher in emotional granularity (the ability to experience and discriminate emotions), particularly of positive emotions. The results of the present work can be used for the development of an emoji-based tool to measure emotions elicited by foods in pre-adolescents.
Keywords: pre-adolescents; emotions; arousal; power; emoji; food; projective mapping; emotion words