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Be careful where you smile : culture shapes judgments of intelligence and honesty of smiling individuals
Journal of Nonverbal Behavior
  • Kuba KRYS, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • C. -Melanie VAUCLAIR, Cis-IUL
  • Colin A. CAPALDI, Carleton University
  • Miu Chi, Vivian LUN, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
  • Michael Harris BOND, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Alejandra DOMINGUEZ-ESPINOSA, Iberoamerican University, Mexico City
  • Claudio TORRES, University of Brasilia, Brasília
  • Ottmar V. LIPP, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
  • L. Sam S. MANICKAM, JSS University, Karnataka, India
  • Cai XING, Renmin University of China, Beijing
  • Radka ANTALÍKOVÁ, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
  • Vassilis PAVLOPOULOS, University of Athens, Greece
  • Julien TEYSSIER, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France
  • Taekyun HUR, Korea University, Republic of Korea
  • Karolina HANSEN, University of Warsaw, Poland
  • Piotr SZAROTA, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Ramadan A. AHMED, Menoufia University, Al Minufya, Egypt
  • Eleonora BURTCEVA, Saint-Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Ana CHKHAIDZE, Agricultural University of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Enila CENKO, University of New York Tirana, Tirana, Albania
  • Patrick DENOUX, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France
  • Márta FÜLÖP, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
  • Arif HASSAN, International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia
  • David O. IGBOKWE, Covenant University, Nigeria
  • İdil IŞIK, Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey
  • Gwatirera JAVANGWE, University of Zimbabwe, Harare
  • María MALBRAN, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina
  • Fridanna MARICCHIOLO, University of Roma Tre, Italy
  • Hera MIKARSA, University of Indonesia
  • Lynden K. MILES, University of Aberdeen, UK
  • Martin NADER, Universidad ICESI, Colombia
  • Joonha PARK, Nagoya University of Commerce and Business, Japan
  • Muhammad RIZWAN, University of Luzern, Switzerland
  • Radwa SALEM, New York University, USA
  • Beate SCHWARZ, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
  • Irfana SHAH, University of Sindh, Pakistan
  • Chien-Ru SUN, National Chengchi University, Taipei
  • Wijnand van TILBURG, King’s College London, United Kingdom
  • Wolfgang WAGNER, Johannes Kepler University, Austria
  • Ryan WISE, Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey
  • Angela Arriola YU, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Philippines
Document Type
Journal article
Publication Date
Springer New York LLC
  • Smile,
  • Honesty,
  • Intelligence,
  • Corruption,
  • Uncertainty avoidance,
  • Culture

Smiling individuals are usually perceived more favorably than non-smiling ones—they are judged as happier, more attractive, competent, and friendly. These seemingly clear and obvious consequences of smiling are assumed to be culturally universal, however most of the psychological research is carried out in WEIRD societies (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) and the influence of culture on social perception of nonverbal behavior is still understudied. Here we show that a smiling individual may be judged as less intelligent than the same non-smiling individual in cultures low on the GLOBE’s uncertainty avoidance dimension. Furthermore, we show that corruption at the societal level may undermine the prosocial perception of smiling—in societies with high corruption indicators, trust toward smiling individuals is reduced. This research fosters understanding of the cultural framework surrounding nonverbal communication processes and reveals that in some cultures smiling may lead to negative attributions.

Funding Information
Research was supported by the Polish NCN Grant 2011/03/N/HS6/05112 (K.K.) and Chinese NNSF Grant 31200788 (C.X). {2011/03/N/HS6/05112 (K.K.), 31200788 (C.X)}
Publisher Statement
Copyright © The Author(s) 2015. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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Citation Information
Krys, K., Vauclair, C.-M., Capaldi, C. A., Lun, V. M.-C., Bond, M. H., Domínguez-Espinosa, A,...Yu, A. A. (2016). Be careful where you smile: Culture shapes judgments of intelligence and honesty of smiling individuals. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 40(2), 101-116. doi: 10.1007/s10919-015-0226-4