Essay on Gender Differences in Smiling

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Gender Differences in Smiling

For many years, gender and gender role differences have been extremely popular topics of study in the psychological field. Everyone seems interested in knowing is there is any truth to the popularized statement and book title, Women are from Venus, Men are from
Mars. Studies have found so many differences between men and women it leaves one wondering in what areas are men and women alike. One nonverbal signal that appears universal for men and women is smiling, but research shows that there are gender differences within that behavior. Kraut and Johnston (1999) define a smile as the major component of a facial display associated with and caused by feelings of happiness or joy.
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They also found that non-smiling women were rated harsher and as more unfriendly that non-smiling men. The results support previous studies that suggest that women are socially expected to smile more than men and are viewed more unfavorably if they do not exhibit the behavior. Briton and Hall (1995) studied the differences between men and women and found that men are typically believed to be more aggressive, noisy and dominant whereas women are believed to be more gentle, emotional and sensitive to others needs. These perceptions are accompanied by expected nonverbal behavior. Men are expected to fold their arms, make occasional eye contact and dominate the conversation. Women are expected to touch, smile, lean forward and be more submissive during conversations. Most research studying gender differences in smiling have found similar results, that women smile more often during verbal interaction than men. Other studies indicate that this difference may occur because of the social expectations placed on men and women.
The purpose of the present study was to investigate, using a naturalistic observation, if there are gender differences in smiling. Taking into consideration the results from previous studies done on this topic, I hypothesized that females will smile more often than men during verbal interaction.
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