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Abstract

Although folk wisdom suggests that a smile may enhance physical attractiveness, most studies in the area have failed to consider or control this factor. The present study was intended to examine the impact of smiling on judgements of physical attractiveness and other characteristics stereotypically ascribed to attractive persons. Consistent with predictions, it was found that smiling increased rated attractiveness when compared to a non-smiling neutral expression. The necessity for controlling this factor in studies of attractiveness is therefore indicated. It was also demonstrated that smiling subjects were attributed greater degrees of sincerity, sociability, and competence, but lesser levels of independence and masculinity. Mediation analysis revealed that the effects of smiling on trait attribution were not due to increases in perceived attractiveness, suggesting that the impact of smiling on ratings of beauty and goodness occurs through independent processes. Potential explanations and implications of these processes were discussed.