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Emotion. 2013 Apr;13(2):270-9. doi: 10.1037/a0030745. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

A winning smile? Smile intensity, physical dominance, and fighter performance.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA. mwkraus@illinois.edu

Abstract

The smile is perhaps the most widely studied facial expression of emotion, and in this article we examine its status as a sign of physical dominance. We reason, on the basis of prior research, that prior to a physical confrontation, smiles are a nonverbal sign of reduced hostility and aggression, and thereby unintentionally communicate reduced physical dominance. Two studies provide evidence in support of this prediction: Study 1 found that professional fighters who smiled more in a prefight photograph taken facing their opponent performed more poorly during the fight in relation to their less intensely smiling counterparts. In Study 2, untrained observers judged a fighter as less hostile and aggressive, and thereby less physically dominant when the fighters' facial expression was manipulated to show a smiling expression in relation to the same fighter displaying a neutral expression. Discussion focused on the reasons why smiles are associated with decreased physical dominance.

PMID:
23356564
DOI:
10.1037/a0030745
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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