Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 24 Jan 2017 Smiling broadly coul ...

Smiling broadly could also mean you are less competent

Published Jan 24, 2017, 6:03 pm IST
Updated Jan 24, 2017, 6:06 pm IST
However, an intense smile does get more buzz on social media.
A smile can greatly influence consumer behaviour. (Photo: Pixabay)
 A smile can greatly influence consumer behaviour. (Photo: Pixabay)

Washington D.C.: If you think a wide smile on your face in online marketing ads will make you be perceived warmly, think again, for a recent study suggests, it could also mean that your competence level is not up to the mark.

University of Kansas researcher Jessica Li said, "We found that broad smiles lead people to be perceived as warmer but less competent. We ask how that can influence consumer behavior and in what situations might marketers want to smile more broadly."


The study done by Li and her co-authors will be published in this month's Journal of Consumer Research. A lot of experiments were conducted by the researchers in which all the respondents saw some marketing images with people having broad smiles and slight smiles.

All the past researches that have been focused on smiles lead the consumers to perceive people as being friendly and are viewed in a positive light. But, the researcher Li has said that the study is true but the results can elicit different reactions from the consumers.

The researchers in this study found that, intensity of someone's smile in a marketing picture gives two dimensions of social judgements - warmth and competence.

Li said, "If I see an ad with a heart surgeon who smiles really broadly at me, I might think she is really warm, but not choose her to be my doctor because she seems less competent than a surgeon with a slight smile. If the risk is really low, such as going to the store to get a new shirt, then the competence of the salesperson isn't as important and I respond more positively to the broad smile."

With their other research on the same issue on, the study suggests when the creator's profile had a broad smile on his photo, the total amount of money pledged decreased by more than 50 percent and the average contribution made by a backer went down by 30% compared to when the creator's profile photo included a slight smile.

"Project creators with a slight smile are perceived as more competent. More people wanted to donate to their project because they believe this competent person is able to deliver the product," Li said.

However, an intense smile does get more buzz on social media. It's intuitive that if you seem to be friendly but not competent, people will want to help you in low-cost ways but not necessarily be willing to give you a lot of money," she said.

This study can be really valuable both for marketers as they can make strategies on how to get the best responses for their products. Also, to the consumers for responding back to the images.