Does Smile Intensity in Photographs Really Predict Longevity? A Replication and Extension of Abel and Kruger (2010)

Psychol Sci. 2018 Jan;29(1):147-153. doi: 10.1177/0956797617734315. Epub 2017 Nov 13.


Abel and Kruger (2010) found that the smile intensity of professional baseball players who were active in 1952, as coded from photographs, predicted these players' longevity. In the current investigation, we sought to replicate this result and to extend the initial analyses. We analyzed (a) a sample that was almost identical to the one from Abel and Kruger's study using the same database and inclusion criteria ( N = 224), (b) a considerably larger nonoverlapping sample consisting of other players from the same cohort ( N = 527), and (c) all players in the database ( N = 13,530 valid cases). Like Abel and Kruger, we relied on categorical smile codings as indicators of positive affectivity, yet we supplemented these codings with subjective ratings of joy intensity and automatic codings of positive affectivity made by computer programs. In both samples and for all three indicators, we found that positive affectivity did not predict mortality once birth year was controlled as a covariate.

Keywords: affect; emotion; life outcomes; longevity; open data; open materials; preregistered; replication.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Athletic Performance
  • Baseball / psychology
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Male
  • Photography*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Smiling / psychology*
  • Temperament