Smile intensity in photographs predicts divorce later in life

Motivation and Emotion (Impact Factor: 1.55). 06/2009; 33(2):99-105. DOI: 10.1007/s11031-009-9124-6


Based on social–functional accounts of emotion, we conducted two studies examining whether the degree to which people smiled
in photographs predicts the likelihood of divorce. Along with other theorists, we posited that smiling behavior in photographs
is potentially indicative of underlying emotional dispositions that have direct and indirect life consequences. In the first
study, we examined participants’ positive expressive behavior in college yearbook photos and in Study 2 we examined a variety
of participants’ photos from childhood through early adulthood. In both studies, divorce was predicted by the degree to which
subjects smiled in their photos.

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Available from: Alissa M Butts
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    • "Common attributes explored in positive psychology include (amongst others): optimism and hope, positive affect, emotional intelligence, effective coping, self-efficacy, goal-setting, flourishing relationships, and positive change. For example, researchers have found that optimistic people have a lower incidence of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality (Giltay, Geleijnse, Zitman, Hoekstra, & Schouten, 2004), that people smiling in childhood photographs have fewer divorces and greater marriage satisfaction (Hertenstein, Hansel, Butts, & Hile, 2009), and that happy teenagers go on to earn a substantially greater income than less happy teenagers (Diener, Nickerson, Lucas, & Sandvik, 2002). These are just a few research examples from the growing field that is beginning to uncover the psychological processes that govern positive individual functioning. "
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    • "Other studies have used the intensity of facial expressions (e.g., in yearbook photos) to predict a number of social and health outcomes years later. For example, smile intensity in a posed photograph has been linked to later life satisfaction, marital status (i.e., likelihood of divorce ), and even years lived (Abel and Kruger, 2010, Harker and Keltner, 2001, Hertenstein et al., 2009, Oveis et al., 2009, Seder and Oishi, 2012). It is likely that research has only begun to scratch the surface of what might be learned from expressions' intensities. "
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