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According to this article: http://www.epjournal.net/articles/smiles-as-signals-of-lower-status-in-football-players-and-fashion-models-evidence-that-smiles-are-associated-with-lower-dominance-and-lower-prestige/

Evidence that smiles are associated with lower dominance and lower prestige.

I don't believe this claim. Is it true?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Disclaimer: I only read the abstracts. That's not sufficient to evaluate the claims in detail and I'm not an expert in the field, but I also found the (generalized) notion counter-intuitive.

The studies' findings are based only on photographs taken in a controlled setting by a photographer with all kinds of intentions. Alternative explanations arise (3 studies). The other one is a priming study, I don't even really see the reasoning behind it. Also one sample (models) was presumably exclusively females, one sample was exclusively males.
They say these groups are ranking by prestige or dominance, and say that this is two forms of status. Status can be taken to have many meanings (see below), but these two are more something like success dimensions in their respective professions (modeling and football), not the "popularity" kind, which I'd expect to go along with smiles all around.

This study finds smiling to be positively correlated with sociometric status (popularity), but unrelated to "power" i.e. dominance. Evidence to the contrary, from a setting that I find more appropriate to generalise from (housemates, ie. actual social groups with a hierarchy).

This social psychology experiment which may not generalize to other settings find that male interviewers smile less than their applicants in a simulated job interview, female interviewers do not. Here, sex acts as a moderator, an interesting pattern that couldn't be applied to the findings from the study you cite.

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