Assessing the cognitive and communicative properties of Facebook Reactions and Likes as lightweight feedback cues

  • Erin M. Sumner Trinity University
  • Rebecca A. Hayes Illinois State University
  • Caleb T. Carr Illinois State University
  • Donghee Yvette Wohn New Jersey Institute of Technology
Keywords: Facebook Like, Facebook Reactions, Paralinguistic Digital Affordances, Social Media

Abstract

The emergence of Facebook Reactions provides new opportunities to explore the nature of paralinguistic digital affordances (PDAs; lightweight one-click social media response cues). Guided by adaptive structuration theory and the concept of cognitive automaticity, a survey of 255 individuals aged 18–24 assessed the cognitive processes and communicative meanings associated with the provision of Facebook Reactions and Likes. Although Like and Reaction cues (excluding Angry) were all identified as more literal in meaning than not, specific results indicated: (a) Likes were perceived more faithfully than Reactions; (b) the Like and Love cues were labeled as the most faithful; and (c) Reactions were perceived as more deliberate and less automatic communicative behaviors than Likes. Collective results suggest social media platforms that offer multiple one-click response cues (e.g., Facebook) can afford different communicative opportunities than platforms with a single PDA response option, presenting challenges for future cross-platform research addressing lightweight response cues.

Author Biographies

Erin M. Sumner, Trinity University
Erin M. Sumner (PhD, Arizona State University) is an Associate Professor of Human Communication at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. Her research primarily focuses on understanding the role of computer-mediated communication (e.g., social media, online dating sites, and other technologies) in social and personal relationships.
Rebecca A. Hayes, Illinois State University

Rebecca A. Hayes (PhD, Michigan State University) is an Associate Professor of Communication at Illinois State University. Her research interests lie in the brand and personal implications of social media, and crisis communication. 

Caleb T. Carr, Illinois State University
Caleb T. Carr (PhD, Michigan State University) is an Associate Professor of Communication at Illinois State University. His research primarily explores the use and role of technology on the convergence of organizational and interpersonal communication, decision making, and the development and presentation of identity.
Donghee Yvette Wohn, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Donghee Yvette Wohn (PhD, Michigan State University) is an Assistant Professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology and director of the Social Interaction Lab (socialinteractionlab.com). Her research is in the area of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) where she studies the role of algorithms and social interactions in livestreaming, esports, gaming, and social media.
Published
2020-01-27
How to Cite
Sumner, E. M., Hayes, R. A., Carr, C. T., & Wohn, D. Y. (2020). Assessing the cognitive and communicative properties of Facebook Reactions and Likes as lightweight feedback cues. First Monday, 25(2). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v25i2.9621