Positive Facial Affect Looks Healthy
A healthy appearance is linked to important behavioural outcomes. Here we investigated whether positive facial affect is a cue for perceived health. In study one, two groups of participants rated the perceived health or perceived happiness of a large set of faces with neutral expressions. Perceived happiness predicted perceived health, as did anthropometric measures of expression. In a second experimental study, we collected ratings of perceived health for a wide age range of target faces with either neutral or smiling expressions. Smiling faces were rated as being much healthier looking than neutral faces, confirming that facial expression plays a role in the perception of health. A third study investigating attractiveness as a possible mediator found that expression still had a significant direct effect on perceived health, after accounting for attractiveness. Together, these studies systematically show that facial affect plays a critical role in shaping our perceptions of health in others.
Jones, Alex.L., Carlota Batres, Aurélie Porcheron, Jennider Sweda, Frédérique Morizot, and Richard Russell. "Positive Facial Affect Looks Healthy." Visual Cognition 26 (2017): 1-12.
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This article is available on the publisher's website: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13506285.2017.1369202