“Who are you?” Personality as a regulator of emotional exchange in Tunisians’ Facebook instant messages



Computer-mediated communication (CMC) has increased dramatically in the last decade and expanded our social relations from families, friends, and neighbors to an almost universe of people due to the proliferation of social network sites, particularly Facebook. In its early days, CMC was seen as only adequate in task-oriented communication because it lacks nonverbal cues. Against its meteoric rise, CMC has offered its version of nonverbal cues namely emoticons that are mainly used to compensate for facial expressions in face-to-face conversations. Many computer-mediated discourse researchers showed concern about studying emoticons but scant attention was paid to the study of its variability through incorporating roles and variables. The current research adopts a sociolinguistic approach to emoticon use. It investigates the correlation between emoticon variations as a dependent linguistic variable in Tunisians’ Facebook Instant messaging conversations and the personality of the sender as an independent social variable. The research findings show that “who you are?” may serve as an emotional regulator for emoticon use and suggest a list of personal traits of Tunisian Facebook IM users who are keener on the use of emoticons than others.  


Variation, Emoticons, The Sender’s Personality, Facebook IM.

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