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Research of Prof. Matt Hertenstein Featured in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

March 20, 2011

54717March 20, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — "Want to know if your marriage will last?" asks today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "A clue may lie in the way you smile in your grade school photo. In 2009, researchers at DePauw University in Indiana conducted two studies that showed the intensity of one's smile could forecast whether or not they got divorced."

The research project -- which was led by Matt Hertenstein, associate professor of psychology at DePauw and received worldwide attention two years ago -- is cited in a story examining "unusual predictors."

"The degree to which people smile in photographs predicts whether or not they'll stay married," Dr. Hertenstein tells the newspaper. 

William Loeffler writes, "One study examined photos of children 53457whose average age was 10. Another looked at photos in a college yearbooks. In both cases, the people with the brighter, more intense smiles were more likely to stay together. The bottom 10 percent of the 'smilers' in the college sample, or those with the least intense smiles, were five times more likely to obtain a divorce, compared to those who smiled the most, Hertenstein says. One theory is that a big smile indicates a healthy emotional disposition, one of the essentials to staying married, he says. Another is that people who smile are sociable and tend to attract others like them."

According the professor, "A person's smile in a photograph is not their marital destiny ... (One) must always keep in mind that we're talking about averages and groups of people and general trends that the data tells us. I'm confident in the fact that smiles correlate with life outcomes, one of which is divorce."

You'll find the complete article, "Freaky forecasts: You might be surprised53937 by indicators used in predictions," at the Tribune-Review's website.

The study by Dr. Hertenstein and DePauw students was first published in the journal Motivation and Emotion. Coverage began in British media outlets, and spread to United Press International, Yahoo! and a piece which aired April 16, 2009 on NBC's Today. The research was included in the New York Times Magazine's "Ninth Annual Year in Ideas" and was cited by India Today, New Scientist and British Columbia's Province.

The professor's research on communicating through touch led to a September 20, 2010 NPR piece and an interview by ABC's Diane Sawyer, as well as a piece in the New York Times.

Visit Hertenstein's Emotion Lab online by clicking here.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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