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.
|Title of host publication||The Social Nature of Emotion Expression|
|Subtitle of host publication||What Emotions Can Tell Us About the World|
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2019|