Previous blog posts have outlined dilemmas women face in being seen as competent yet “likeable” in negotiations.
Deborah Gruenfeld of Stanford and researcher Carol Kinsey Goman note that women can increase perceived authority. if they smile when situationally-appropriate instead of consistently.
They imply that observers assign different interpretations to women’s smiles than to men’s smiles.
Washington University in St. Louis’s Simine Vazire teamed with Laura Naumann of University of California, Berkeley, University of Cambridge’s Peter Rentfrow, and Samuel Gosling of University of Texas to investigate gender differences in the meaning of smiling behavior.
They drew on University of New Mexico professor Jacob Miguel Vigil‘s theory that emotional behaviors promote attraction and aversion, based on others’ perceived:
- Power to provide resources or harm (dominant, masculine behaviors)
- Trustworthiness to reciprocate altruism (submissive, feminine)
Vazire’s team reported that women’s smiles signal positive affect and warmth, which are seen as “trustworthiness cues” in Vigil’s model, and typically attract fewer, but closer relationships.
Gruenfeld and Goman argue that women’s smiling also signals low power in negotiation situations and interpersonal interactions.
In contrast, smiling among men indicates confidence and lack of self-doubt, seen as “capacity cues” to the ability to either help or hurt others.
These expressions usually attract numerous, but less-intimate relationships while
conveying a key element of power, self-assurance.
Team Vazire’s research validated Gruenfeld’s and Goman’s hypothesis that observers interpreted women’s smiles differently than men’s, even if the underlying, subjective emotional experience is similar.
Their work supports Gruenfeld’s and Goman’s recommendation that women balance smiling, a signal of interpersonal warmth, with powerful non-verbal behaviors to achieve best outcomes in negotiations and workplace performance.
-*How has smiling helped establish your warmth?
-*When has smiling undermined your credibility and power?
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Blog – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)