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Does a Smile on Picture Day Keep the Doctor Away? The Connections between Facial Expressions in Student Identification Photographs and Health Care Center Visitation

  • Author(s): Cross, Marie
  • Advisor(s): Pressman, Sarah D
  • et al.
Abstract

Background: These two studies examined whether facial expressions in student identification photographs were connected with health care center visitation. Method: In Study 1, participants (N = 267) completed a short online survey that detailed the number of times they had visited a health care center in the last year. In Study 2, participants (N = 435) answered this same question, but health care center visits were divided into four categories: illness, injury, mood-related, and preventive. In both studies, the photographs on participants’ student identification cards were coded as no smile, non-Duchenne smile, or Duchenne smile. Results: Logistic regressions revealed that in Study 1, participants with non-Duchenne or Duchenne smiles were more likely to have visited a health care center in the past year than participants with no smile in their photograph. However, Study 2 revealed that this finding was driven by preventive health care center visits: participants with non-Duchenne or Duchenne smiles in their photographs were more likely to have visited a health care center in the past year for preventive purposes than participants with no smile in their photograph. No facial expression differences were found for health care center visits for illness, injury, or mood-related concerns. Conclusions: Smiling in photographs is connected to preventive health care center visits, a positive health behavior. Future research should continue to investigate whether smiles in photographs are connected with other important health outcomes

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