Across four studies, the current paper demonstrates that smiles are associated with lower social status. Moreover, the association between smiles and lower status appears in the psychology of observers and generalizes across two forms of status: prestige and dominance. In the first study, faces of fashion models representing less prestigious apparel brands were found to be more similar to a canonical smile display than the faces of models representing more prestigious apparel brands. In a second study, after being experimentally primed with either high or low prestige fashion narratives, participants in the low prestige condition were more likely to perceive smiles in a series of photographs depicting smiling and non-smiling faces. A third study of football player photographs revealed that the faces of less dominant (smaller) football players were more similar to the canonical smile display than the faces of their physically larger counterparts. Using the same football player photographs, a fourth study found that smiling was a more reliable indicator of perceived status-relevant personality traits than perceptions of the football players' physical sizes inferred from the photographs.
Smiles as Signals of Lower Status in Football Players and Fashion Models: Evidence That Smiles are Associated With Lower Dominance and Lower PrestigeWCOB Faculty Publications
Citation InformationKetelaar, Timothy, et.al. "Smiles as Signals of Lower Status in Football Players and Fashion Models: Evidence That Smiles are Associated With Lower Dominance and Lower Prestige." Evolutionary Psychology 10.3 (2012): 371-397.