The Vividness of the Happy Face

David Becker, Narayanan Srinivasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


An emerging literature reveals that happy faces are vivid: They automatically and rapidly engage cognitive processing at many different levels. They do this in part because their form has evolved to take advantage of preexisting efficiencies in visual perception. In addition to "happy advantages" at the earliest stages of perception, perceivers add their own benefits, with both attentional and memory mechanisms appearing to favor happy faces. These effects exist because for humans, prosocial communication is critical. Coevolution has sculpted both the signaler and the receiver to enhance the efficiency of this communication as a way to undergird our highly social nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-194
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • evolutionary psychology
  • facial expression
  • happiness
  • prosocial communication
  • signal detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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