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Psychol Sci. 2017 Sep;28(9):1259-1270. doi: 10.1177/0956797617706082. Epub 2017 Jul 25.

Functional Smiles: Tools for Love, Sympathy, and War.

Author information

1
1 School of Psychology, Cardiff University.
2
2 School of Psychology, University of Glasgow.
3
3 Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow.
4
4 Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Abstract

A smile is the most frequent facial expression, but not all smiles are equal. A social-functional account holds that smiles of reward, affiliation, and dominance serve basic social functions, including rewarding behavior, bonding socially, and negotiating hierarchy. Here, we characterize the facial-expression patterns associated with these three types of smiles. Specifically, we modeled the facial expressions using a data-driven approach and showed that reward smiles are symmetrical and accompanied by eyebrow raising, affiliative smiles involve lip pressing, and dominance smiles are asymmetrical and contain nose wrinkling and upper-lip raising. A Bayesian-classifier analysis and a detection task revealed that the three smile types are highly distinct. Finally, social judgments made by a separate participant group showed that the different smile types convey different social messages. Our results provide the first detailed description of the physical form and social messages conveyed by these three types of functional smiles and document the versatility of these facial expressions.

KEYWORDS:

emotion; facial expressions; reverse correlation; smile; social perception

PMID:
28741981
PMCID:
PMC6056899
DOI:
10.1177/0956797617706082
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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