Reading a smiling face: messages conveyed by various forms of smiling

Percept Mot Skills. 1996 Jun;82(3 Pt 2):1111-21. doi: 10.2466/pms.1996.82.3c.1111.


This study investigated the effect of various forms of smiling (closed smile, upper smile, or broad smile) on person perception. Brazilian undergraduates (N = 330) judged a photograph of a male or female stimulus person in three age ranges (young, middle-aged, and old) and smiling or not. 7-point scales were used to measure respondents' perception of the stimulus persons on various attributes (attractiveness, happiness, extroversion, sympathy, kindness, submission, ambition, and intelligence). We found that a smile enhanced attractiveness and kindness ratings independently of its form, whereas the influence of the various forms on ratings of happiness was additive. As the neutral face changed to a closed smile and the closed smile became a broad smile, target stimuli were attributed greater rated happiness. We also found a contribution of perceivers' gender to the judgements of extroversion and sympathy, indicating a slightly greater discrimination of facial expressions among women than among men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonverbal Communication*
  • Personality
  • Smiling*
  • Social Perception*
  • Visual Perception*