Lip Service: Smiles in Life, Death, Trust, Lies, Work, Memory, Sex, and Politics

Marianne LaFrance. Norton, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-393-06004-1
Smiles are "social acts with consequences," writes Yale social psychologist LaFrance. They also are "indispensable" to both physical and psychological well-being. LaFrance draws on a wide range of psychological and biological factors, as well as culture and literature, in order to delineate the many different kinds of smiles and how to recognize and react to them: the seductive smile, the sometimes manipulative smiles of politicians, and the ingratiating ones of salespeople. LaFrance is particularly interesting in discussing smiling and power: high-power people smile when they want to, low-power people when they have to. LaFrance also examines gender differences: women tend to smile and reciprocate smiles of others more than men—but only when they're being observed by others. And she notes the cultural differences in how often people smile and what constitutes a smile in public. According to a study she cites, American college students look for smiles around the mouth, while their Japanese counterparts look around the eyes. While LaFrance occasionally digresses, her extensive research, clear and sometimes humorous writing, and interdisciplinary approach make this a very fine book for anyone who smiles (or doesn't). (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-393-08259-3
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