Marianne LaFrance
Marianne LaFrance


Dr. Marianne LaFrance is Professor of Psychology and Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She teaches courses on social psychology, gender psychology, and nonverbal communication to undergraduate and doctoral students.

As an experimental social psychologist she does research on how emotion and power are reflected in and maintained by subtle communication cues. Nonverbal behaviors are particularly interesting because they lie out-of-awareness and typically operate off-the-record. Also, nonverbal cues convey important information about an individual's gender identity, personality, emotional state, core attitudes and personal allegiances.

Her overall aim is to understand how nonverbal communication in the form of facial expression, gesture, posture, vocal intonation create, reflect, repair and undo social relationships.

Dr. LaFrance’s research has focused on the varied consequences of a smile including why a smile can get you off the hook, why men smile less than women, why women smile when they are sexually harassed, and at whom do babies show the coy smile. The research was conducted in the Departments of Psychology at Boston College and Yale University. The research has been published in the scientific literature and has been widely reported in media outlets such as NPR, BBC, NBC, The New York Times, Globe and Mail (Canada), among others.

B.A.HONS. Psychology, University of Windsor, Canada
Canada Council Doctoral Fellow
M.A. in Social Psychology, Boston University
Ph.D in Social Psychology, Boston University

Evaluating Research in Social Psychology: A Guide to the Consumer
Second Author, Co-authored with Clara Mayo

Moving Bodies: Nonverbal Communication in Social Relationships
First Author, Co-authored with Clara Mayo

LaFrance, M. (2009). What’s in a Robot’s Smile? The many meanings of positive facial display. In L. Canamero & R. Aylett (Eds.) Animating Expressive Characters for Social Interaction. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: J,D. Benjamin.

LaFrance, M., Hecht, M.A., & Paluck, E.L. (2003). The contingent smile: A meta-analysis of sex differences in smiling. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 305-334.

LaFrance, M. (2001). Gender and social interaction. In R. Unger (Eds.),
Handbook on the psychology of women and gender.

LaFrance, M. & Woodzicka, J. (2001). Real versus imagined reactions to sexual harassment. Journal of Social Issues, 57(1),15-30.

LaFrance, M., & Hecht, M.A. (2000). Why do women smile more than men? In A. Fischer (Ed.), Gender and emotions. (pp. 118-142). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.