The many faces of smiles

Magdalena Rychlowska, Antony S.R. Manstead, Job van der Schalk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Smiles are ubiquitous. We often think of them as facial expressions communicating joy and positive feelings but a closer examination reveals that people smile in a wide variety of situations - including stressful and negative ones. Moreover, a growing body of literature reveals that the meaning and the social consequences of smiles are largely influenced by the context in which these expressions appear. The present chapter explores what smiles can tell us about people and how smiles are perceived. We first review existing evidence on positive interpersonal effects of smiling. However, as we show in the second part of the chapter, these effects depend on the morphology of smiles and are especially strong for smiles perceived as genuine and rewarding. Finally, we discuss research documenting that the interpretation of smiles depends on the context, including the expresser, the perceiver, and the situation in which the smile is displayed. In sum, the chapter highlights the complexity of smiles as social signals and the necessity of considering context in research on smiles and their social consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Social Nature of Emotion Expression
Subtitle of host publicationWhat Emotions Can Tell Us About the World
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-32968-6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'The many faces of smiles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this