A preference for genuine smiles following social exclusion

Michael J. Bernstein, Donald F. Sacco, Christina M. Brown, Steven G. Young, Heather M. Claypool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Research indicates that rejected individuals are better than others at discriminating between genuine (Duchenne) and deceptive (non-Duchenne) smiles (i.e., true versus false signals of affiliative opportunity). We hypothesized that rejected individuals would show a greater preference to work with individuals displaying Duchenne versus non-Duchenne smiles. To test this, participants wrote essays about experiences of inclusion, exclusion, or mundane events. They then saw a series of 20 videos of smiling individuals (10 with Duchenne and 10 with non-Duchenne smiles). Participants then indicated how much they would like to work with each target. Analyses revealed that compared to included and control participants, excluded individuals showed a greater preference to work with individuals displaying "real" as opposed to "fake" smiles. This effect was partially mediated by threats to "relational needs" (Williams, 2007) and fully mediated by threats to self-esteem. These results suggest that exclusion yields adaptive responses that could facilitate reconnection with others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-199
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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