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