It turns out that an obsession with emojis--and overusing them--has a surprising perk. New research shows that apparently, people who pepper their texts with the icons get more dates and have more sex. Who knew?
The research was published by the journal PLoS ONE on Aug. 15 and was conducted by members of The Kinsey Institute in Indiana University and the Department of Psychology in Lake Forest College in Chicago.
It found that emojis contribute to a successful dating life. The conclusions were drawn from two separate studies that asked participants if they use emojis and why, and information on their dating lives—like how often the have sex.
The first study consisted of 5,327 single people in the United States aged 18 to 94 years old. Eighty-seven percent of the participants identified as heterosexual, about 10 percent as gay or lesbian, and 3.5 percent as bisexual. The majority—62 percent—identified as white. About 19 percent were African American, 15 percent Hispanic/Latino, 6 percent Asian, and 2 percent Native American.
The results of the first survey found that 38 percent never use emojis, 29 percent rarely do, and 28 percent use them regularly. Even smaller were the repeat offenders: 3 percent of participants use at least one emoji in every text, and 2.5 percent use more than one in every text.
The second study was an online survey of 275 adults, which was done in order to extend the findings of the first.
In this one, participants were between the ages of 18 and 71. Of these, 84 percent identified as heterosexual, 13.5 as bisexual and, 3 percent as homosexual. Again, the large majority identified as white (73 percent). African Americans made up 13.5 percent, about 9 percent were Latino, 8 percent were Asian, 1.5 percent Native American, and 0.4 percent were Arab, Middle Eastern, or Indian.
The researchers examined the most recent dates of the people in this study, which included emoji frequency, intimacy, and continued contact with the date.
The second survey saw only 3 percent of participants saying they never use emojis with potential dates. Participants who used emojis while texting their dates were more likely to have a second date.
According to the results of both studies, most those who frequently use emojis reported more first dates and recurrent sexual activity.
The reasons for emoji use were varied, such as to give messages more colour and personality, or because the little icons make it easier to express feelings.
The authors of the journal paper wrote that “emoji use with potential partners is associated with maintaining connection beyond the first date, and more romantic and sexual interactions over the previous year.”
Both studies found that more emoji use links to more sex and more sexual partners.
Those who used emojis were way more likely to have kissed and had sex with their date. They were also more likely to enter a relationship with said partner.
However, the research, which was partly sponsored by dating service Match, does not totally solve the mystery of relationships. The researchers didn’t actually look into which emojis were used (kiss face? eggplant?) or the nuances of the texts.
The authors have several explanations for why high emoji use could be linked to thriving love life.
Essentially, they concluded that people who use emojis may be better at forming intimate and emotional connections with others. Non-verbal expressions through emojis are good at both softening a harsh message or just amplifying a positive one. Emojis also help partners understand the interest they show each other.
The study indicates that emojis can be effective tools to build intimacy. With how taxing dating can be today, adding heart eyes emojis could be worth a shot.
This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.