To :) or not to :) ?

Scenario : You are applying for a job via e-mail – is it a good idea to attach a smiley?    :)

That depends – according to a report presented at the 25th annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology (2010). Professor Lori Foster Thompson of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Technology Lab at North Carolina State University, and colleagues from George Mason University and the University of Otago jointly presented a paper entitled ‘E-Screening: The Consequences of Using ‘Smileys’ when E-Mailing Prospective Employers’ Which is the first ever study to “examine the effects of emoticon usage in a job application context.” A series of experiments investigated how the use of a smiley might either help (or hinder) your employment prospects. The researchers found supporting eveidence for all six of their smiley-based hypotheses. In summary :

“… smileys can indeed have the desired effect on perceptions of warmth, which may be particularly important to women, who are said to place a priority on close, personal relationships.”

There is an important proviso, however :

“Applicants using smileys are perceived to be less competent and lower in the agentic, instrumental ‘male’ attributes and behaviors (e.g., independence, leadership) believed to be necessary for success at male-gender-typed jobs.”

Note [1] The examinations only looked at the effects of one particular emoticon     :) and there are many other common fomats, such as :-)   =)    :-D and of course

Therefore presenting opportunities for future research which “… could test other formats and examine the effects of other types of emoticons, such as the frown   :( and the wink   ;-)

Note [2] An extensive list of currently accepted emoticons can be found here :-9