Intensity of smiling and attractiveness as facial signals of trustworthiness in women

Percept Mot Skills. 2012 Jun;114(3):964-78. doi: 10.2466/07.09.21.PMS.114.3.964-978.


Facial attractiveness is associated with a variety of positive social characteristics including trustworthiness. Variations in smiling, such as the appearance of the Duchenne marker and increased intensity of expression, have likewise been linked with positive judgments of trustworthiness. The study investigated the interaction of the effects of models' attractiveness and their smiling intensity on impressions of perceived trustworthiness. Participants rated the attractiveness and expressivity of neutral, low intensity, and high intensity smiling images of 45 women models. These images were also presented to a second group of participants who rated trustworthiness. Repeated measures analysis of covariance of the effects of attractiveness and manipulated smile intensity on trustworthiness indicated a main effect for smile intensity: increased smile intensity was associated with greater trustworthiness. Attractiveness also contributed to rated trustworthiness independently of smiling intensity. Results suggested there is an additional contribution of facial expression in creating social impressions of trustworthiness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beauty*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Pennsylvania
  • Sex Factors
  • Smiling*
  • Social Desirability*
  • Social Perception*
  • Trust*
  • Young Adult