The Future of Creativity: 2022 U.S. Emoji Trend Report reveals insights on emoji use for 💼, 🥰 and more 👀
With Unicode’s upcoming 15.0 release and a slew of new emoji on the way, we think it’s the perfect time to share the results of Adobe’s Future of Creativity: 2022 U.S. Emoji Trend Report. We surveyed 5,000 emoji users from the United States, and the results shed light on the when, why, and how Americans are using emoji for self-expression and identity, diversity, equity and inclusion, dating and relationships, workplace communications and more.
Year after year emoji continue to enhance our everyday lives, especially when it comes to self-expression, relationship building, and mental health. The versatility of emoji allows for endless possibilities to connect with each other, as their meanings evolve and inclusivity expands.
To break down the report, we asked Paul D. Hunt, typeface designer and font developer at Adobe, and Kamile Demir, computer scientist at Adobe and Adobe representative on the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee, to share their thoughts on this year’s illuminating findings.
“Emoji give people the resources they need to be able to express themselves and show their emotions, whether it be on social media or messaging apps. They allow people to convey more than just words on a screen and connect more deeply to others,” said Demir.
It has never been cooler to use emoji
Our survey found that 73 percent of those surveyed believe that adding emoji to your messages makes you cooler, friendlier, and funnier. It’s no surprise they’ve become so popular — since emoji help us better understand each other. From workplace messaging apps to dating apps to group chats, emoji give us the ability to convey emotion, tone, and mood through just a few taps on our keyboards. When words alone aren’t enough, emoji do a lot of the heavy lifting. Sometimes all you need is an emoji!
Emoji make it easier to communicate
If you’ve ever experienced an anxiety spike after receiving a text message without an emoji, you’re not alone. It comes as no surprise, then, that the vast majority (91 percent) of those surveyed use emoji to bring levity to conversations. There’s nothing more effective than a well-timed 😂, 👍, ❤️, 🤣, 😢 — the five most popular emoji in the U.S. These playful pictographs even have the ability to boost our overall mental health, as stated by more than half (60 percent) of the survey participants.
Emoji may help (or hinder!) your love life
“Using emoji is a sign of emotional intelligence. It demonstrates you are able to be vulnerable and wear your heart on your sleeve,” said Hunt.
The same thinking applies to the world of dating and relationships. Now a love language all their own, emoji can make or break a first impression and ignite or extinguish a possible flame. For a chance at romance, send the three emoji that will make you more appealing to a new beau: 😘, 🥰, or 😍. And whatever you do, avoid the three emoji that are most likely to turn people off: 💩, 😠, and 🍆.
Our study also found that 32 percent of Gen Z’ers have ended a relationship with someone by using an emoji.
“You wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with someone who can’t share their emotions with you, right? I believe the same applies to digital communication. Emoji usage, and being able to communicate emotionally digitally, is part of the expected package of emotional maturity. If you aren’t able to do so, it might leave a potential partner wondering whether you lack those skills in real life too,” said Hunt.
Emoji as a powerful tool in the remote work era
If emoji make it easier for us to communicate in our personal lives, it makes sense that we translate those positive feelings into the workplace, too. With many of us still working from home, there are people who still haven’t met their co-workers in person. Not only did 68 percent of those surveyed say they like it when people use emoji at work, but they also stated that it positively impacts likability (69 percent) and credibility (59 percent). There may have been a time when emoji were considered unprofessional, but that sure isn’t the case now.
“One of the challenges of hybrid work is that it can be harder to interpret written communication from our coworkers without that face to face interaction. Emoji are a great way to mitigate potential misunderstandings — a quick smiley face on the end of your message can go a long way,” said Demir.
The most misunderstood emoji: 🤠, 🍒, 🙃
While emoji often make it easier to communicate, there is always room for misunderstandings, especially when 50 percent of U.S. emoji users use emoji differently than their intended meanings. With lighthearted generational wars playing out on social media (remember ‘cheugy’?), often between millennials and Gen Z, demographics play a huge part in how different people use different emoji.
For example, 🤠 is the #1 most misunderstood emoji in the U.S. — the yeehaw of it all has been widely memeified, gaining popularity because of musicians like Kacey Musgraves and Lil Nas X. But this is in part why emoji are so exciting — as times and culture change, language, including emoji, inevitably change too.
“One of my favorite things about emoji is their ever-changing nature. Meaning only arises in the context of communication with others, and emoji can mean whatever you want them to mean,” said Hunt.
The desire for more inclusive emoji is only growing
Now, more than ever, we are having an important and overdue conversation about inclusivity, equity, and diversity. And because emoji are so integrated into our daily activities, it is vital that they reflect the lives of as many people as possible. According to the survey, age, race/ethnicity, culture, and disability are the top four categories of inclusive emoji U.S. emoji users would like to see expanded.
As emoji continue to influence the world around us, 71 percent of U.S. emoji users agree that inclusive emoji can help spark positive conversations about cultural and societal issues, while 75 percent think that inclusive emoji can help raise awareness of diverse groups of people. While there’s been steady progress over the past several years, 83 percent of people agree that emoji should still offer more representation.
Stay close with emoji 🤝
“I love using emoji to infuse my personality into digital communications and allow me to build deeper connections with people despite not being face to face,” said Demir.
Humans are hardwired to crave connection, belonging, and community — we want to understand others and be understood ourselves. When we spend so much time behind screens, those desires increase without the in-person markers of tone, facial expressions, and body language. Emoji help bridge that gap, expressing what text on a screen cannot. With the majority of U.S. emoji users (88 percent) reporting they are more likely to feel empathetic toward someone if they use an emoji, there is an opportunity to transcend the limitations of language, hopefully propelling us into a more compassionate future.
Dive deeper into the findings from Adobe’s Future of Creativity: 2022 U.S. Emoji Trend Report here.