Who smiles while alone? Rates of smiling lower in China than U.S.

Previous studies have found that Westerners value high intensity positive emotions more than people in China and Japan, yet few studies have compared actual rates of smiling across cultures. Particularly rare are observational studies of real-time smiling (as opposed to smiling in photos). In Study 1, raters coded student ID photos of European American and East Asian students in the U.S. In Study 2, observers coded people’s smiles as they walked outside in the U.S. and China. Both studies found that people from East Asia smiled much less–about 50% less. These differences could reflect differences in happiness across cultures, norms of smiling, or differences in ideal affect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)