Facial expression of emotion is a foundational aspect of social interaction and nonverbal communication. In this study, we use a computer-animated 3D facial tool to investigate how dynamic properties of a smile are perceived. We created smile animations where we systematically manipulated the smile's angle, extent, dental show, and dynamic symmetry. Then we asked a diverse sample of 802 participants to rate the smiles in terms of their effectiveness, genuineness, pleasantness, and perceived emotional intent. We define a "successful smile" as one that is rated effective, genuine, and pleasant in the colloquial sense of these words. We found that a successful smile can be expressed via a variety of different spatiotemporal trajectories, involving an intricate balance of mouth angle, smile extent, and dental show combined with dynamic symmetry. These findings have broad applications in a variety of areas, such as facial reanimation surgery, rehabilitation, computer graphics, and psychology.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by faculty start-up funds from the University of Minnesota (NEH, SJG, SL-P).