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J Nonverbal Behav. 2016;40:101-116. Epub 2015 Dec 30.

Be Careful Where You Smile: Culture Shapes Judgments of Intelligence and Honesty of Smiling Individuals.

Author information

1
Institute of Psychology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Jaracza 1, 00-378 Warsaw, Poland.
2
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Cis-IUL, Lisbon, Portugal.
3
Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.
4
Department of Applied Psychology, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
5
Department of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
6
Psychology Department, Iberoamerican University, Mexico City, Mexico.
7
Institute of Psychology, University of Brasilia, Brasília, Brazil.
8
School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.
9
Department of Psychiatry, JSS University, Karnataka, India.
10
Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China.
11
Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.
12
Department of Psychology, University of Athens, Attica, Greece.
13
Département Clinique du Sujet, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France.
14
Department of Psychology, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
15
Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.
16
Faculty of Arts, Menoufia University, Al Minufya, Egypt.
17
Faculty of Sociology, Saint-Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia.
18
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Agricultural University of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia.
19
University of New York Tirana, Tirana, Albania.
20
Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.
21
Department of Business Administration, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
22
College of Leadership Development Studies, Covenant University, Canaanland, Ota, Ogun State Nigeria.
23
Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey.
24
Department of Psychology, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe.
25
Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina.
26
Department of Education, University of Roma Tre, Rome, Italy.
27
Faculty of Psychology, University of Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia.
28
School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK.
29
Department of Psychological Studies, Universidad ICESI, Cali, Colombia.
30
Nagoya University of Commerce and Business, Nagoya, Japan.
31
Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy, University of Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland.
32
Silver School of Social Work, New York University, New York City, NY USA.
33
Department of Applied Psychology, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Zurich, Switzerland.
34
Department of Psychology, University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Pakistan.
35
Department of Psychology, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan Republic of China.
36
Department of Psychology, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.
37
Department of Social and Economic Psychology, Johannes Kepler University, Linz, Austria.
38
Department of Psychology, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.

Abstract

Smiling individuals are usually perceived more favorably than non-smiling ones-they are judged as happier, more attractive, competent, and friendly. These seemingly clear and obvious consequences of smiling are assumed to be culturally universal, however most of the psychological research is carried out in WEIRD societies (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) and the influence of culture on social perception of nonverbal behavior is still understudied. Here we show that a smiling individual may be judged as less intelligent than the same non-smiling individual in cultures low on the GLOBE's uncertainty avoidance dimension. Furthermore, we show that corruption at the societal level may undermine the prosocial perception of smiling-in societies with high corruption indicators, trust toward smiling individuals is reduced. This research fosters understanding of the cultural framework surrounding nonverbal communication processes and reveals that in some cultures smiling may lead to negative attributions.

KEYWORDS:

Corruption; Culture; Honesty; Intelligence; Smile; Uncertainty avoidance

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