Confusing acceptance and mere politeness: Depression and sensitivity to Duchenne smiles

Reuma Gadassi*, Nilly Mor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background and objectives Whereas the association between depression and the perception of emotions has been widely studied, only few studies have examined the association between depression and the ability to discriminate genuine (Duchenne) from fake (non-Duchenne) smiles. The present study examined this by comparing currently depressed, previously depressed, and healthy control individuals. Guided by recent theory, the present study also investigated the effect of depression recurrence on smile identification. Methods Participants were 27 healthy controls, 33 with past depression (51% with recurrent depression), and 22 with current depression (77% with recurrent depression). Participants were presented with a series of 20 videos depicting smiling individuals, and were asked to indicate whether each smile was genuine or fake. Results Having (or having had) a first episode of depression was associated with more mistakes in categorizing smiles as genuine or fake compared to having recurrent depression or to having no history of depression. Limitations Cross sectional design and a (relatively) small sample size. Conclusions Our results show that an impaired ability to differentiate between markers of affiliation and politeness is specific to first-episode depression, even after the depression has remitted.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8-14
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
StatePublished - Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Depression
  • Duchenne smiles
  • Interpersonal perception


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