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Statistics LibreTexts

20.6: Smiles and Leniency

  • Page ID
  • Learning Objectives

    • To study the research on effects of smiling

    Research conducted by

    Marianne LaFrance and Marvin Hecht

    Case study prepared by

    David Lane


    Dale Carnegie stated that smiling helps win friends and influence people. Research on the effects of smiling has backed this up and shown that a smiling person is judged to be more pleasant, attractive, sincere, sociable, and competent than a non-smiling person.

    There is evidence that smiling can attenuate judgments of possible wrongdoing. This phenomenon termed the "smile-leniency effect" was the focus of a study by Marianne LaFrance & Marvin Hecht in 1995.

    Questions to Answer

    Does smiling increase leniency? Are different types of smiles differentially effective?

    Design Issues

    There was a single person used for all the conditions. This may limit the generalizeability of the results.

    Descriptions of Variables

    Table \(\PageIndex{1}\): Description of Variables
    Variable Description
    Smile 1 is false smile
    2 is felt smile
    3 is miserable smile
    4 is neutral control
    Leniency A measure of how lenient the judgments were.

    Data Files



    • LaFrance, M., & Hecht, M. A. (1995) Why smiles generate leniency. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 207-214.


    • Online Statistics Education: A Multimedia Course of Study ( Project Leader: David M. Lane, Rice University.

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