Rejection helps one to spot fake smiles

October 25th, 2008 - 1:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 25 (IANS) An honest smile is the mantra that opens doors and wins friends, but beware a phoney grin.People in the throes of rejection are particularly good in telling the genuine from fake smile, according to a recent study.

Michael J. Bernstein, a psychologist and his colleagues from Miami University wanted to see to what extent rejected individuals would be able to identify the authenticity of a facial expression.

They induced feelings of social rejection in a group of the participants by making them think about a time when they felt socially isolated.

Conversely, other participants were asked to recall times they felt accepted or included in a group. Yet more participants in the control group were asked to recall the previous morning’s activities (resulting in neutral feelings).

The participants then viewed videos of people smiling - some of the videos showed people expressing genuine smiles and the rest depicted people with fake smiles. Participants were to indicate which of the videos contained real smiles.

The results show that socially rejected individuals are better at distinguishing fake smiles from real smiles compared to individuals who feel socially accepted or who were in the control group.

The authors proposed that socially rejected people have an increased motivation to be accepted, thus making them more sensitive to specific social cues indicating opportunities for inclusion, said a release of the Association for Psychological Science. These findings were published in the October issue of Psychological Science.

The authors concluded “it seems essential to detect legitimate signs of positivity that indicate possible reaffiliation with other people. Otherwise, rejected individuals could miss out on new chances for acceptance or ‘waste’ affiliation efforts on people who are not receptive.”

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