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Psychol Aging. 2010 Dec;25(4):811-21. doi: 10.1037/a0019888.

Recognition of posed and spontaneous dynamic smiles in young and older adults.

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Department of Psychology, Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045, USA.


In 2 studies, we investigated age effects in the ability to recognize dynamic posed and spontaneous smiles. Study 1 showed that both young and older adult participants were above chance in their ability to distinguish between posed and spontaneous smiles in young adults. In Study 2, we found that young adult participant performance declined when judging a combination of both young and older adult target smiles, while older adult participants outperformed young adult participants in distinguishing between posed and spontaneous smiles. A synthesis of results across the 2 studies showed a small-to-medium age effect (d = -0.40), suggesting that older adults have an advantage in discriminating between smile types. Mixed stimuli (i.e., a mixture of young and older adult faces) may impact accurate smile discrimination. In future research, both the sources (cues) and behavioral effects of age-related differences in the discrimination of positive expressions should be investigated.

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