Detecting happiness: Perceiver sensitivity to enjoyment and non-enjoyment smiles

Lynden Miles, Lucy Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


The physiognomic distinctions between spontaneous enjoyment smiles and deliberate non-enjoyment smiles provide the social perceiver with a functional, accessible source of information to help regulate social interaction. Two experiments were performed to investigate whether perceivers were sensitive to this information in a contextually meaningful manner. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to judge whether a target individual was happy or not. The results revealed that participants were indeed sensitive to the differences between enjoyment and non-enjoyment smiles. In Experiment 2, participants performed a priming task without any specific instruction to judge emotional state. Neutral expressions, non-enjoyment smiles and enjoyment smiles were employed as primes in a word valence identification task. The results demonstrated a clear trend indicative of perceiver sensitivity. When compared to a the baseline condition of a neutral expression prime, enjoyment but not non-enjoyment smiles facilitated identification of positive words.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-275
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


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