Spontaneous facial expressions of happy bowlers and soccer fans

  • Ruiz-Belda M
  • Fernández-Dols J
  • Barchard K
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Kraut and Johnston (1979) found surprisingly few smiles in large samples of bowlers and hockey fans during happy events--unless they were simultaneously engaged in social interaction. A limitation of their studies is that there was no direct test of subjects' actual emotional experience at the moments in which they were observed. This article reports two field studies in which emotions were reported by bowlers and by soccer fans. Analysing facial behaviour of those who reported happiness, we found a low probability of smiling in the absence of social interaction ( .09 for bowlers and .07 for soccer fans) and a high probability of smiling during social interaction ( .78 and .70). These findings question the common assumption that smiles are an indicator of happiness per se , and support the alternative hypothesis of a more complex and indirect relationship between smiling and happiness.

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  • María Angeles Ruiz-Belda

  • José Miguel Fernández-Dols

  • Kim Barchard

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