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Human Smiles: Expression of Emotion or Communication Gesture?
Unformatted Document Text:  Kurylo & Frank Smiles and Communication 19 (1982) between enjoyment and nonenjoyment smiles. Hypothesis 3 proposed that all smiles should correlate with self-report of happiness. Although we found this when looking at all smiles across all situations, when we examined this relationship within different social contact conditions, we found that all smiles taken together did not correlate significantly with participants’ happiness. This only partially supports the universal-biological perspective that all emotional expression is related to felt emotion. Taken together, particularly in light of participants’ suspicions about the one-way mirror - which may have caused them to feel that they were always in a social situation, and thus likely inflated artificially the number of nonenjoyment smiles when alone - our findings suggest that the neurocultural theory seems to be the best explanation of the results. Only one specific type of smile - the enjoyment smile - consistently predicted happiness across all modes of social contact. The findings of this study suggest that future research should consider much more strongly the interplay between emotion, facial expression, and social interaction. For example, although not statistically significant, there were hints that some interesting trends such as how the number of enjoyment smiles increased with the presence of friends – when these friends were either in the same room or in another room watching the same video. This suggests that social contact with friends needs to be further studied as a trigger of felt emotion rather than being used as a trigger of facial displays and assumed to be unrelated to emotion. There are certainly theoretical reasons why this might happen; for example, the presence of another person, by being more “immediate” (Mehrabian, 1972), serves to generate a stronger emotion. Work by Reeves and colleagues on mediated communication argue that more visually compelling stimuli evoke stronger emotions (e.g., Detenber & Reeves, 1996). Studies might consider

Authors: Kurylo, Anastacia. and Frank, Mark.
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background image
Kurylo & Frank
Smiles and Communication
19
(1982) between enjoyment and nonenjoyment smiles. Hypothesis 3 proposed that all
smiles should correlate with self-report of happiness. Although we found this when
looking at all smiles across all situations, when we examined this relationship within
different social contact conditions, we found that all smiles taken together did not
correlate significantly with participants’ happiness. This only partially supports the
universal-biological perspective that all emotional expression is related to felt emotion.
Taken together, particularly in light of participants’ suspicions about the one-way mirror
- which may have caused them to feel that they were always in a social situation, and thus
likely inflated artificially the number of nonenjoyment smiles when alone - our findings
suggest that the neurocultural theory seems to be the best explanation of the results.
Only one specific type of smile - the enjoyment smile - consistently predicted happiness
across all modes of social contact. The findings of this study suggest that future research
should consider much more strongly the interplay between emotion, facial expression,
and social interaction. For example, although not statistically significant, there were
hints that some interesting trends such as how the number of enjoyment smiles increased
with the presence of friends – when these friends were either in the same room or in
another room watching the same video. This suggests that social contact with friends
needs to be further studied as a trigger of felt emotion rather than being used as a trigger
of facial displays and assumed to be unrelated to emotion. There are certainly theoretical
reasons why this might happen; for example, the presence of another person, by being
more “immediate” (Mehrabian, 1972), serves to generate a stronger emotion. Work by
Reeves and colleagues on mediated communication argue that more visually compelling
stimuli evoke stronger emotions (e.g., Detenber & Reeves, 1996). Studies might consider


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