What’s more, the authors asked a group of other undergraduate students to watch the tape and to make their best guess about the SES of the people shown on the video. Based only on the participants’ nonverbal behaviors in these brief videotaped exchanges, the observers were able to make better-than-chance estimates of the participants’ family income and even their mother’s level of education, an indirect measure of SES (though they were not as accurate in judging paternal education). Kraus and Keltner conclude their report by stating that, “SES imbues the briefest interactions, influencing both what people signal nonverbally and how they are perceived.”
As for me, I think I may have inherited that same mildly disingenuous blue-collar smile as my father. Having said that, unlike my dad I’m also a pecuniary numbskull, and I have a hunch these types of engagement cues might flare up in my social behaviors every time I burn a new hole in my pocket.