London: We see salesmen and waitresses smiling most of the time and now we know the reason.
Psychologists have found that a genuine smile of pleasure can make a customer feel better – even if they are being overcharged.
The discovery highlights how expressions influence our decision making, and how a grinning salesman can persuade us to part with cash so readily.
The figure emerged from experiments in which volunteers were given the choice of gambling against a computer-generated character with a genuine smile or one with a polite, fake grin.
The psychologists were astonished to find people were repeatedly prepared to sacrifice future winnings in order to spend time with a real smile.
The volunteers tended to pick the genuinely smiling faces – even though they knew they would win less cash.
The psychologists calculated volunteers were willing to sacrifice income of a third of a penny for each smile.
“If the salesperson gives you a genuine smile of pleasure, you will have a positive experience and be likely to buy a nicer car or more add-ons than you originally intended. Indeed, genuine smiles appear to act as a form of social currency, a valuable reward that people will pay to receive,” said Danielle Shore, a PhD student at Bangor University.