All Smiles

‌That friendly smile may not be what it seems, according to international research involving the University of Glasgow.

A team of psychologists, including Dr Rachael Jack and Professor Philippe Schyns, have identified three types of smile: the “reward”, “affiliative” and “dominance” smile.

Led by Dr Magdalena Rychiowska of Cardiff University, and including academics from Wisconsin-Madison University, the team created a library of 2,400 computer-generated expressions. The images were tested on 200 people who were asked to describe them.


The study, “Functional Smiles: Tools for Love, Sympathy and War”, published in the journal Psychological Science, concluded: “Smile models generated in the present studies, as well as video recordings of these smiles, could serve as a framework for the automatic detection and classification of smiles that occur in real-life situations, such as those displayed during presidential elections or interactions with intimate others, using computervision algorithms. Finally, further analysis of the temporal dynamics of different smile types has the potential to inform the clinical assessment of the surgeries aimed at the reanimation of the smile.”

Media coverage of the research has been widespread, particularly in the USA, while the article was in the top 5% of altmetric scores.

First published: 9 August 2017