Being facially expressive is socially advantageous

Kavanagh, E. ORCID: 0000-0001-7202-005X, Whitehouse, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-2607-5492 and Waller, B.M. ORCID: 0000-0001-6303-7458, 2024. Being facially expressive is socially advantageous. Scientific Reports, 14: 12798. ISSN 2045-2322

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Individuals vary in how they move their faces in everyday social interactions. In a first large-scale study, we measured variation in dynamic facial behaviour during social interaction and examined dyadic outcomes and impression formation. In Study 1, we recorded semi-structured video calls with 52 participants interacting with a confederate across various everyday contexts. Video clips were rated by 176 independent participants. In Study 2, we examined video calls of 1315 participants engaging in unstructured video-call interactions. Facial expressivity indices were extracted using automated Facial Action Coding Scheme analysis and measures of personality and partner impressions were obtained by self-report. Facial expressivity varied considerably across participants, but little across contexts, social partners or time. In Study 1, more facially expressive participants were more well-liked, agreeable, and successful at negotiating (if also more agreeable). Participants who were more facially competent, readable, and perceived as readable were also more well-liked. In Study 2, we replicated the findings that facial expressivity was associated with agreeableness and liking by their social partner, and additionally found it to be associated with extraversion and neuroticism. Findings suggest that facial behaviour is a stable individual difference that proffers social advantages, pointing towards an affiliative, adaptive function.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Creators: Kavanagh, E., Whitehouse, J. and Waller, B.M.
Publisher: Nature Research
Date: 13 June 2024
Volume: 14
ISSN: 2045-2322
Rights: © the author(s) 2024. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 13 Jun 2024 15:16
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2024 15:16

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