Young children discriminate genuine from fake smiles and expect people displaying genuine smiles to be more prosocial
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We investigated when young children become sensitive to one evolutionary important signal of honest affiliative and cooperative intent: a genuine (Duchenne) smile. Altogether, we tested 168 children between 2 and 5 years of age in a series of studies aimed at mapping the development of children's ability to discriminate genuine from fake smiles, their preference for genuine smiles, and their understanding of how genuine smiles are linked with prosocial behavior. Studies 1–4 showed that children's ability to discriminate, and answer questions about, the different types of smiles gradually improves between the ages of 2 and 4 years: from implicitly discriminating the smiles in their gaze behavior (at age 3), to being able to identify genuine smiles explicitly in a verbal task (at age 4). Study 5 showed that 4- to 5-year-old children expect people displaying genuine smiles to be more prosocial than those displaying fake smiles. These results demonstrate that the origins of this evolutionarily important form of partner choice appear early in development.
Song , R , Over , H & Carpenter , M 2016 , ' Young children discriminate genuine from fake smiles and expect people displaying genuine smiles to be more prosocial ' Evolution and Human Behavior , vol 37 , no. 6 , pp. 490-501 . DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2016.05.002
Evolution and Human Behavior
© 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2016.05.002
This research was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant number ES/K006702/1).
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