Humans 101

What Your Most Frequently Used Emoji Says About You

Your (over)use of a certain emoji may hint at your values and flaws

Illustration: Mark Starmach

Here’s an instant personality test. Get your iPhone out and bring up the keyboard. Tap the emoji button and look to see what your most frequently used emoji is. It’s the one at the tippy-top of the list (unless you’re using an Android device, which will show your most recently used emoji, not your most frequently used emoji). This is the emoji you go to time and time again when communicating with others. And this byte-sized blip may say more about you than you think.

Mark’s most Frequently Used Emoji

This isn’t a far-fetched proposition. Over time, this single emoji has subconsciously surfaced as the one emoticon you most commonly wish to convey to others. As far as psychometric measures go, that’s about as honest and unbiased as you can get. It may just yield important clues about your psyche, strengths, weaknesses, values, and flaws — as well as how you typically relate to others and the world around you. For better or worse, that most frequently used emoji offers a litmus into your general mood or modus operandi at any point in time. And that could be incredibly useful.

Professional psychotherapist and counselor Charlotte Stapf helped me to discern what these emojis might say about us — both positive and negative — and what areas they may suggest for improvement.

Why did I consult with a psychotherapist for this? Well, Stapf explains her role as one where she listens without judgment until her clients know they have been seen and heard. Then, together, they identify behavior and thought patterns that are not working well for them. With Stapf’s outside perspective, she can help them find new ways of being within themselves and with others. Jokingly she calls this unpacking people’s “psychological baggage” and then helping them find better ways of carrying whatever they keep.

Which brings us back to emojis: What baggage might be hiding within these little emoticons? Stapf and I considered the most commonly used emojis according to the Unicode Consortium and our own day-to-day experiences. We were cautious not to read too deeply into any one emoji, making as few assumptions as possible but still enough that the interpretation isn’t meaningless. Of course, people use the below emojis for wildly different reasons, but insights may be gleaned from each.

🙏 — You are a thankful, grateful person. But you may also feel indebted to others or as though your requests or inquiries are an inconvenience to them, requiring nothing less than divine intervention for people to take them on.

😂 / 🤣 — You are a happy person who laughs through life. Though you might too often laugh at yourself, your requests, or your opinions, perhaps you feel what you say is not being taken seriously.

😊 — Your glass is always half full. You ooze positivity, though there’s the possibility you may be overly concerned with placating others, keeping the peace, making sure that everyone else is happy even at the cost of your own wishes or desires.

❤️/ 😍 / 😘 — You are a loving soul and want everyone around you to feel loved, especially when they’re going through a hard time. Compassion comes naturally to you. Just make sure you’re not giving your love to people who don’t appreciate or deserve it.

👍 / 👌 / 🤙 — Your life motto is “no worries” or “hakuna matata.” That tendency to go with the flow, however, may send you too far down the stream of other people’s desires. Ask yourself whether you’re neglecting to assert yourself.

🍆 / 🍑 — You may be a very sexually driven person. Or it could swing the other way, and you’re very sexually frustrated. Either way, if the majority of your conversations are sex-related, you may want to ask yourself why that’s the case. Are you doing this for the validation of others, or are you doing it for yourself?

💩 — You are often disappointed or let down by others. It could be that your expectations are too high or that you dwell on the negative too much. Or you may poo a lot. In which case, have you been tested for IBS?

😭 — You are very open with your emotions (at least with those you are close to). You are extremely appreciative of others and feel things deeply — be that overwhelming joy or overwhelming sadness. If you’re quiet in real life, this emoji might be a way of releasing pent-up emotion.

😢 — You confide in others when you are sad, and perhaps you are going through a rough patch. Watch that your sadness doesn’t get the better of you and that you seek help if it all gets to be too much.

🙄 — You are often startled by the selfish or hypocritical actions of others. Sarcasm is how you shield yourself from life’s disappointments. This is all well and good — just don’t let yourself become too jaded.

🤔 — You are a deep thinker, though maybe to the point of overthinking. You tend to second-guess people’s intentions or are puzzled by their actions. To you, things are not always as they seem. This skepticism is healthy in small doses, but if left unwatched, it could morph into a nasty cynicism.

🔥 / 💯 — You’re an enthusiastic person who sees the awesomeness in everything. But this might make you also prone to downplay your (sometimes rightful) discomfort for certain things, activities, or situations.

🙌 / 🎉 — You’re life’s cheer squad, often celebrating successes — both your own and those of friends and family, be they birthdays or job promotions or small everyday wins. There’s no inherent downside here, except perhaps to ensure that your friends also know you’re there for them when things go wrong.

🍻 / 🍺 / 🍷 — You enjoy catching up with your friends over drinks and regularly organize these shindigs for your group. This is a great way to let off steam and socialize, but be cautious of using alcohol as a crutch. Along the same lines, if you rely on alcohol to be social, there may be a bigger issue at play.

🤞 — You often hope things turn out for the best. This may be because you have an optimistic outlook on life. Or it may be that you are actually deep down doubtful that things will go your way (and slightly superstitious).

Now, these interpretations shouldn’t be an impetus to change how you express yourself to others via your phone, or pointing our your flaws. Taking this look at the emoji you use most is more about holding up a mirror so you might see yourself from another perspective.

And, of course, not everything said here applies to everyone. We’re all individuals and we all use emojis in our own way for our own reasons. We also all use our phones for different reasons. If your phone is mainly for business, the interactions you have will be completely different from those you’d have socially. Perhaps you have a big presence on social media, which brings a bubblier-than-usual persona to the fore. Or you may use your phone primarily to talk to your family — in which case your emoji usage would say more about how you relate to your loved ones than to the world as a whole. In fact, our emoji interpretations may prove more insightful when you take into consideration the way you personally use your phone.

What do you think? 🤔

Finding light on the dark side of life. Copywriter and Co-founder of Intangible Goods.

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