Brighten Up: Smiles Facilitate Perceptual Judgment of Facial Lightness
The metaphoric expression 'bright smile' may reflect the actual judgment of facial lightness under varying emotional expressions. The present research examined whether people in fact judge smiling faces as perceptually brighter than frowning faces. Four studies demonstrated that participants believed smiling faces were brighter compared to frowning faces in a binary choice task and in an absolute judgment task. The results suggest that emotional expressions (i.e., smiles and frowns) can bias judgments of facial brightness in ways consistent with the metaphor. Among other implications, such results suggest that stereotypes about darker-skinned individuals may be attenuated by smiles.
Hyunjin Song, Andrew J. Vonasch, Meier, Brian P., and John A. Bargh. “Brighten Up: Smile Facilitate Perceptual Judgement of Facial Lightness.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48.1 (2012): 450-452.