Original Paper

Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 99-105

First online:

Smile intensity in photographs predicts divorce later in life

  • Matthew J. HertensteinAffiliated withDePauw University Email author 
  • , Carrie A. HanselAffiliated withDePauw University
  • , Alissa M. ButtsAffiliated withDePauw University
  • , Sarah N. HileAffiliated withDePauw University

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Based on social–functional accounts of emotion, we conducted two studies examining whether the degree to which people smiled in photographs predicts the likelihood of divorce. Along with other theorists, we posited that smiling behavior in photographs is potentially indicative of underlying emotional dispositions that have direct and indirect life consequences. In the first study, we examined participants’ positive expressive behavior in college yearbook photos and in Study 2 we examined a variety of participants’ photos from childhood through early adulthood. In both studies, divorce was predicted by the degree to which subjects smiled in their photos.


Emotion Positive emotion Divorce