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Emojis and Culture

Emojis are universal, right?  These simple symbols would appear to be straight forward enough in their meaning to transcend culture. However...

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, culture has a way of affecting how we see and interpret the things around us, and that includes emojis.  A group of researchers recently found that different people had vastly different interpretations of some popular emojis.  The researchers found that when people receive the "face with tears of joy" emoji — which Oxford Dictionaries declared its word of the year — some understand it positively and others interpret it negatively. "We find that only 4.5 percent of emoji symbols we examined have consistently low variance in their sentiment interpretations," the researchers said. "[I]n 25 percent of the cases where participants rated the same rendering, they did not agree on whether the sentiment was positive, neutral, or negative."  It only gets more complicated when you're texting across platforms, because the same emojis are rendered differently on different devices.  


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Want to learn more about culture and cultural training in the Department of Defense (DoD)? is here to help!  We are a public resource to discover specific information about various cultures and also training on cross cultural competence or general concepts that affect all cultures.  If you are in the military, or support the military, or are thinking of joining the military, we welcome you to check it out!  Some of our Department of Defense (DoD) oriented material is restricted to government ID holders, or password protected, but our goal is to provide you with some training that is easy to access.  Cultural competence is important to military missions, the Department of Defense (DoD), and for all those who support those missions.  Learning about specific cultures will help you accomplish challenging tasks in a culturally complex environment.  Being ready for any cultural challenge in an important aspect of military readiness.  For more information on culture readiness and training, be sure to check back to

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