Facial Muscle Combinations Underlying Three Types of Smiles: Reward, Affiliation, Dominance

The smile may be the most common and flexible expression, used to reveal some emotions, cover others, and manage social interactions that have kept communities secure and organized for millennia. But how do we tell one kind of smile from another? "When distinguishing among smiles, both scientists and laypeople have tended to focus on true and false smiles. The belief is that if you smile when you're not happy, the smile is false," says Dr. Paula Niedenthal, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "But people smile in many different circumstances and during many emotional states. So, asserting that only smiles that result from states of happiness are 'true' smiles limits our understanding of this important facial expression." Dr. Niedenthal and colleagues from Cardiff University and the University of Glasgow published in the journal Psychological Science (online on July 25, 2017 ) a set of experiments that seek to expand our understanding of the human smile, showing three distinct, reliably recognized expressions -- smiles of reward, affiliation, and dominance -- and describing the facial muscle combinations that make them.
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