Are All Smiles Perceived Equal? The Role of Service Provider’s Gender

Sungwoo Choi
Choongbeom Choi, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Anna S. Mattila


We examine the differential effect of smile intensity based on the gender of the service provider. Gender-based beliefs and stereotypes suggest that people apply different social norms when evaluating emotional expressivity of males and females (Fisher & Dube, 2005). Gender role stereotypes (Eagly, 1987) suggest that men are expected to be task-oriented, competitive and strong and such characteristics discourage smiling broadly (Hall et al., 2000). Given that smiling has a negative impact on independence, masculinity (Reis et al., 1990) and dominance ratings (Keating et al., 1981), we argue that broad smiles are incongruent with the agentic orientation of men. Women, on the other hand, are more emotionally expressive (e.g., Hess et al., 2000). Consequently, broad smiles signaling high intensity of affect (Otta et al., 1996) are more consistent with female stereotypes (Briton & Hall, 1995).