Evaluations of three different types of smiles in relation to social anxiety and psychopathic traits

Anna L. Dapprich, Eva Gilboa-Schechtman, Eni S. Becker, Mike Rinck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Research has identified three different types of smiles–the reward, affiliation and dominance smile–which serve expressions of happiness, connectedness, and superiority, respectively. Examining their explicit and implicit evaluations by considering a perceivers’ level of social anxiety and psychopathy may enhance our understanding of these smiles’ theorised meanings, and their role in problematic social behaviour. Female participants (N=122) filled in questionnaires on social anxiety, psychopathic tendencies (i.e. the affective-interpersonal deficit and antisocial lifestyle) and callous–unemotional (CU) traits. In order to measure explicit and implicit evaluations of the three smiles, angry and neutral facial expressions, an Explicit Valence Rating Task and an Approach-Avoidance Task were administered. Results indicated that all smiles were explicitly evaluated as positive. No differences in implicit evaluations between the smile types were found. Social anxiety was not associated with either explicit or implicit smile evaluations. In contrast, CU-traits were negatively associated with explicit evaluations of reward and dominance smiles. These findings support the assumptions of non-biased explicit information processing in social anxiety, and flattened emotional sensitivity in CU-traits. The importance of a multimethod approach to enhance the understanding of the effects of smile types on perceivers is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-545
Number of pages11
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


This study was supported by the Behavioural Science Institute (BSI) of Radboud University, as well as the Department of Psychology and the Gonda Brain Science Center of Bar-Ilan University. We would like to thank our students for helping to conduct the experiment, as well as our participants for participating in it. Finally, the helpful suggestions by the editor and two anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged.

FundersFunder number
Behavioural Science Institute
Gonda Brain Science Center of Bar-Ilan University
Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum


    • Social phobia
    • approach-avoidance behaviour
    • callous–unemotional traits
    • cognitive bias
    • facial emotional expressions


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