Smiling is believed to make people look younger. Ganel and Goodale (Psychon Bull Rev 25(6):612–616, https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1306-8, 2018) proposed that this belief is a misconception rooted in popular media, based on their findings that people actually perceive smiling faces as older. However, they did not clarify whether this misconception can be generalized across cultures. We tested the cross-cultural validity of Ganel and Goodale’s findings by collecting data from Japanese and Swedish participants. Specifically, we aimed to replicate Ganel and Goodale’s study using segregated sets of Japanese and Swedish facial stimuli, and including Japanese and Swedish participants in groups asked to estimate the age of either Japanese or Swedish faces (two groups of participants × two groups of stimuli; four groups total). Our multiverse analytical approach consistently showed that the participants evaluated smiling faces as older in direct evaluations, regardless of the facial stimuli culture or their nationality, although they believed that smiling makes people look younger. Further, we hypothesized that the effect of wrinkles around the eyes on the estimation of age would vary with the stimulus culture, based on previous studies. However, we found no differences in age estimates by stimulus culture in the present study. Our results showed that we successfully replicated Ganel and Goodale (2018) in a cross-cultural context. Our study thus clarified that the belief that smiling makes people look younger is a common cultural misconception.
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