Something to smile about: the interrelationship between attractiveness and emotional expression

Cogn Emot. 2014;28(2):298-310. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2013.817383. Epub 2013 Jul 22.


Previous studies have suggested a link between the processing of the emotional expression of a face and how attractive it appears. In two experiments we investigated the interrelationship between attractiveness and happiness. In Experiment 1 we presented morphed faces varying in attractiveness and happiness and asked participants to choose the more attractive of two simultaneously presented faces. In the second experiment we used the same stimuli as in Experiment 1 and asked participants to choose the happier face. The results of Experiment 1 revealed that the evaluation of attractiveness is strongly influenced by the intensity of a smile expressed on a face: A happy facial expression could even compensate for relative unattractiveness. Conversely, the findings of Experiment 2 showed that facial attractiveness also influences the evaluation of happiness: It was easier to choose the happier of two faces if the happier face was also more attractive. We discuss the interrelationship of happiness and attractiveness with regard to evolutionary relevance of positive affective status and rewarding effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beauty*
  • Choice Behavior
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sex Factors
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult