Do Gender and Age Affect Smiling?

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Author: Jessica, Grade 8

Behavioral and Social Science Centreville Middle School March, 2001 Award: School Fair - 1st Place, Category Regional Fair - 1st Place, Category


I did a project on smiling. I asked the question, Do Gender and Age Affect Smiling? I based my project on a news article about some research done on smiling that was found on the Internet. The results from the research project showed that in the higher grades girls smiled more than boys. I have always been interested in Behavioral Science involving the differences in gender and this article interested me. I wondered if the results for this project could be replicated. 

Based on the news article and other articles that I read in my background reading I predicted that the higher in grades the girls would smile more. 

To conduct this project I used the research project as a guideline. For data I gathered old yearbooks together and used the photographs in them as my test subjects. All the subjects had been asked to smile in front of a camera so it was controlled. I went through the photos and collected data on who was smiling or not, whether they were boys or girls, and what grade they were in. Then I analyzed the data by making graphs comparing the percentage of girls and boys smiling.

From the data I found that there was a difference in boys and girls. The higher the grade level, the bigger the difference between girls smiling and boys smiling. Boys seem to smile less as they get older. These are very similar results to what was found in the other research project. 

As there has been very little research done on laughter and smiling, the results of my project, as well as other research projects, can help scientists continue to gather information on this subject. Now that I have completed this project, I look at yearbook pictures and my fellow students a little differently!


Does gender and age affect smiling?

Background Reading

Davis K. Dodd a senior lecturer in psychology in Arts and Science did a research project very similar to mine. He looked at 15,414 pictures of students in elementary and high schools and college. He found that in Kindergarten there is a slight difference with girls smiling 5 percent higher than boys. Gender roles have not yet been formed. Yet by eighth grade girls are smiling a lot more than boys. 

Looking at several other articles on smiling and laughter I found out that there is a specific part of your brain that controls laughter. But we socially learn when it is appropriate to laugh and smile. Several of the articles talked about how laughter seems to be contagious and in some schools there have been laughing epidemics.


Hypothesis: From what I have found in my back ground reading I predict that as you get higher in the grades girls will smile more than boys.


A group of yearbooks from eighth to fifth grade

A series of year books through first grade to seventh grade

10 copies of one randomly picked page from one of the yearbooks

Paper and pencil to record

Excel, the computer program for spreadsheets (optional)

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