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ORIGINAL RESEARCH published: 04 January 2019 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02499 The Role of the Face Itself in the Face Effect: Sensitivity, Expressiveness, and Anticipated Feedback in Individual Compliance Maggie Wenjing Liu, Qichao Zhu* and Yige Yuan* School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China Face-to-face interactions are central to many individual choices and decision-making issues, such as customer services, sales, promotions, and negotiations. While the face effect, that is, face-to-face interactions are more effective in inducing compliance than other forms of interactions, has been noted in the literature, its mechanism has rarely Edited by: Wenfeng Chen, been explored. This research helps to fill the theoretical void and provides new insights Renmin University of China, into the face effect with two lab experiments and one field experiment. Study 1, a field China experiment conducted in a beauty salon, and Study 2, a lab experiment, show that the Reviewed by: Yu-Hao P. Sun, face effect is largely attributable to anticipated facial feedback and that the face effect is Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, stronger when individuals are sensitive to face and when the requester’s face is expressive. China Study 3, using video-simulated face-to-face interactions, demonstrates that anticipated Xuehua Wang, East China Normal University, facial feedback, not necessarily actual feedback, is enough to drive the face effect. In so China doing, this research furthers our understanding of factors that affect individual compliance *Correspondence: in face-to-face interactions in both the “sending” and “receiving” stages. We discuss the Qichao Zhu email@example.com theoretical and empirical implications, limitations, and future avenues of research. Yige Yuan Keywords: face effect, compliance, feedback, facial expression, facial expressiveness, interpersonal sensitivity firstname.lastname@example.org Specialty section: This article was submitted to INTRODUCTION Emotion Science, a section of the journal Face-to-face interactions are one of the most pervasive and important forms of interpersonal interactions Frontiers in Psychology (Kendon et al., 1975). Additionally, these interactions are central to many individual choices and decision- Received: 24 May 2018 making issues, such as customer service, sales, promotions, and negotiations. Most critically, face-to-face Accepted: 23 November 2018 interactions allow individuals to receive nonverbal cues that are absent or incomplete in other forms of Published: 04 January 2019 interactions (e.g., telecommunications; Short et al., 1976; Song et al., 2016). In a broad sense of face-to- Citation: face communications, recent development of digital technologies has increased the extent of individuals Liu MW, Zhu Q and Yuan Y (2019) interacting face to face. Users of both cellphones and computers have increasingly utilized their video The Role of the Face Itself in the Face calling functions to facilitate face-to-face interactions (Lin and Liu, 2009). For example, Apple’s iPhone Effect: Sensitivity, Expressiveness, video calling application, Facetime, is being used extensively around the world. Many companies (e.g., and Anticipated Feedback in Verizon Wireless, IKEA, and Continental Airlines) have already added “virtual agents,” that is, online Individual Compliance. customer service representatives with human-like faces and responses, to their websites to facilitate Front. Psychol. 9:2499. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02499 decisions and choices (Wooters and Marcu, 2009). In addition, Emoji, a series of two-dimensional Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 1 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 2499 Liu et al. Sensitivity-to-Face and Expressiveness in Face Effect of Compliance pictographs including facial expressions to produce emotions and in one another’s immediate physical presence.” However, with the facial feedback similar to those in face to-face interactions, has development of technologies, such as video calls and the Internet, become popular in e-communications (Kelly and Watts, 2015). These individuals no longer need to be physically present with their advances suggest that despite technological developments that have interactive partners. Thus, we define face-to-face interactions as changed the ways in which face-to-face interactions occur, such personal communications in which individuals can see the face of interactions remain critical for individual choices and decisions. their interactive partner. This research is motivated by the pervasive compliance problems In this article, we focus on individual decisions related to in face-to-face interactions in both daily lives and marketing compliance, which represents one of the most common types of activities. Factors inducing consumer compliance have been an decisions during interpersonal interactions (Cialdini and Goldstein, important area in the literature (e.g., Tybout, 1978; Mowen and 2004). Compliance refers to the act of responding favorably to a Cialdini, 1980; Wosinska, 2005). Some examples of compliance request made by another individual (i.e., the requester; Cialdini, problems include decisions related to buying a product, donating 2001). A request can be explicit (e.g., a phone call soliciting to a charity, or, generally, complying with a request. e li Th terature donations) or implicit (e.g., an advertisement meant to induce in psychology, communications, and political science has noted purchase of products). Individuals oen co ft mply with requests the face effect, i.e., face-to-face interactions are more effective in when they are motivated to develop and preserve significant inducing compliance than other forms of interactions, such as interpersonal relationships or maintain a favorable self-concept direct mail, telephone calls, and emails (e.g., Milgram, 1965b; (Cialdini and Goldstein, 2004; Andrighetto et al., 2015). Accordingly, Gerber and Green, 2000; Roghanizad and Bohns, 2017). the principle of “social validation” describes an individual’s Facial expressions are mainly used to display emotions to others tendency to look into other individuals for cues regarding how to in social interactions (Ekman, 1993). The facial feedback, or think, feel, and behave (Cialdini, 2001). information conveyed by facial expressions, is an essential factor used Classical compliance research indicates that different variables by individuals to infer others’ personalities and intents from their faces of face-to-face interactions, such as effort expended in the (Todorov et al., 2008; Ueda et al., 2017). On the other hand, the effect interactions (Zimbardo and Ebbesen, 1970) and behavior of of facial feedback is not necessarily limited to actual facial expressions. experiment confederates (Milgram, 1965a), influence compliance. Prior research has found that social influence can occur while others Marketing studies have examined compliance-inducing strategies, are not physically present, but simply anticipated to be present or particularly in the personal selling and advertising areas (e.g., imagined (Modigliani, 1971). Therefore, anticipated facial feedback Tybout, 1978; Mowen and Cialdini, 1980; Wosinska, 2005). For can be a pivotal factor. Despite the pervasiveness of the face effect on instance, Wosinska (2005) suggests direct-to-consumer advertising compliance decisions, mechanism of the face effect has rarely been of medicines as a good way of inducing compliance, since it explicitly explored (Gerber and Green, 2000). To address this gap in empowers consumers and meets their demand for information. theory, we propose and test anticipated facial feedback as one More recent research has noted the face effect (e.g., Milgram, important underlying mechanism of the face effect with one field 1965b; Gerber and Green, 2000; Roghanizad and Bohns, 2017). For study and two lab experiments. We also examine the roles of facial example, Gerber and Green (2000) found that personal canvassing expressiveness and sensitivity to face in amplifying or mitigating increases voter turnout more than direct mail and telephone calls in a anticipated facial feedback, identifying two important boundary field experiment. Roghanizad and Bohns (2017) suggest that people conditions of the face effect. Furthermore, we test the notion that oen un ft derestimate compliance rate in face-to-face interactions while anticipated facial feedback, rather than actual facial feedback, drives overestimating compliance rate of emails due to varied trust and compliance with request during face-to-face interactions (Liu, 2010). empathy levels of the two channels. Yet the underlying mechanism e r Th est of the article is organized as follows. First, we present of the face effect has rarely been explicitly explored ( Gerber and a review of the literature related to the various conceptual elements of Green, 2000). As face-to-face interactions contain numerous our research: face-to-face interactions, compliance, facial feedback, nonverbal cues and feedbacks (Short et al., 1976; Song et al., 2016), sensitivity to face, and facial expressiveness. Second, we develop and anticipated social disapproval drives social influence in an the theoretical framework and propose multiple research hypotheses. imagined face-to-face interaction (Modigliani, 1971), we next review Third, we report the procedures and results of two laboratory the role of anticipated facial feedback in the face effect. experiments and a field experiment to test the hypotheses. Finally, we conclude the article with the theoretical contributions, empirical Facial Feedback, Sensitivity, and implications, limitations, and future research directions. Expressiveness Social presence theory indicates that face-to-face interactions are a high social presence medium and contain numerous overt and LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESIS hidden communication channels (Short et al., 1976). Common DEVELOPMENT nonverbal channels include facial expressions, eye behavior, head movements, hand/arm movements, hair, and make-up (Knapp and Effect of Face-to-Face Interactions on Hall, 2005). The face, however, is the most distinctive feature of Compliance the human body and most capable of revealing an individual’s Goffman (1959, p. 233) defines face-to-face interactions as “the emotions (Fanghänel et al., 2006; Schwaninger et al., 2006). The reciprocal influence of individuals upon one another’s actions when face is the most communicative part of our emotions, thus making Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 2 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 2499 Liu et al. Sensitivity-to-Face and Expressiveness in Face Effect of Compliance it the most expressive part and the main interactive side of our will try to promote positive facial feedbackand/or inhibit negative body (Widen and Russell, 2004; Fanghänel et al., 2006; Schwaninger one from the requester. In fact, previous research has found that et al., 2006). The successful nonverbal communication of ae ff ct positive facial expressions such as happiness promote approaching includes “sending” and “receiving” nonverbal messages accurately behaviors of the observer, while negative facial expressions such (Buck et al., 1972; Buck et al., 1974). Yet people are not equally able as anger promote avoidant behaviors of the observer (Ruggiero to be judged by and judge others accurately in unfamiliar situations, et al., 2017). and this ability can be ae ff cted by some individual variables, such Bohns (2016) suggests that awkwardness from saying no to as gender, personality traits, and nonverbal skills (Ambady et al., requests drives many compliance decisions. In fact, social influence 1995). For instance, females are more effective in communicating can occur even when others are anticipated to be present, not effects than males, as female senders have higher facial physically present, and imagined or anticipated social disapproval expressiveness (Buck et al., 1972; Buck et al., 1974). drives this effect ( Modigliani, 1971). As an imagination of Facial expressiveness relates to the “sending” of nonverbal experience aer r ft esponding favorably to the request, anticipated messages and represents one of the face’s most critical functions positive facial feedback may also enhance the likelihood of in relation to human interactions. Hobson (1993) claims that compliance (Petrova and Cialdini, 2008). Therefore, we propose individuals directly demonstrate their ae ff ctive states to others that the face effect is largely attributable to the individual’s through increasingly sophisticated facial expressions. Facial anticipated facial feedback from the requester. expressiveness can also be varied so that people may show blank facial expressions even if they experience certain emotions (Ekman, H1: e face eff Th ect is mediated by anticipated facial feedback 1993). In fact, “emotional suppression, ” meaning reducing emotional from the requester. expressiveness intentionally, oen ft occurs in a state of emotional arousal (Gross and Levenson, 1993). Interpersonal sensitivity is a critical factor in individual decision- Sensitivity, or interpersonal sensitivity, on the other hand, relates making. For instance, individuals in a subordinate position generally to the “receiving” of messages and is defined as accuracy in judging, have higher interpersonal sensitivity than their bosses, since noticing, and recalling cues given by the expressers (Hall et al., low-status members’ resources are oen det ft ermined by their high- 2005). An individual’s sensitivity to nonverbal cues is an important status partners (Kenny et al., 2010). In the present research, we focus part of human psychosocial functioning and emotional intelligence on sensitivity to face. When individuals are sensitive to the (Hall et al., 2009). To illustrate, Bernieri (1991) demonstrated that requester’s face, they are more likely to attend to and react to the individuals with higher sensitivity to nonverbal cues learn more in facial feedback. Hall et al. (2005) pointed out that individuals tend face-to-face interactions than in distant modes of communications. to be in a general state of being consciously sensitive to cues from Buck et al. (1972) suggest that females’ heightened interpersonal their interactive partner, but can be less sensitive when there is a sensitivity underlies their effectiveness in receiving nonverbal cues distraction. On the other hand, exposure to a brief orientation (see also o Th mpson and Voyer, 2014 ). related to facial movements increases sensitivity to emotions Since face is the main interactive side of our body (Widen and communicated by facial expressions (Solomon et al., 1997). When Russell, 2004), face-to-face interactions are likely to generate a individuals are insensitive to the requester’s face, however, the face feedback mechanism between individuals and their interactive effect will disappear because of the failure of “receiving” anticipated partners. Charles Darwin’s work on expression of emotions, first facial feedback. Therefore, we propose that the individual’s sensitivity published in 1872, suggests that the movements of expression to face moderates the face effect. reveal not only emotions but also “the thoughts and intentions of others more truly than do words, which may be falsified” (p. 359). H2: e Th face effect is stronger when individuals are sensitive to er Th efore, people pay attention to the facial expressions of their face and weaker when they are insensitive to face. interactive partners and infer their personalities and intents from these expressions (Todorov et al., 2008). For example, smile is Although much of the literature on facial expressiveness has usually a sign of trustworthiness, while anger and disgust are focused on its effect on others’ ability to interpret one’s emotions usually signs of trait dominance (Ueda et al., 2017; Ueda and with facial expressions (e.g., Widen and Russell, 2004), expressiveness Yoshikawa, 2018). Subjective expected pleasure theory indicates is also a basic part of individual ability to influence others in face- that individuals make choices to maximize expected pleasure to-face interactions (Friedman et al., 1980). For example, a formed by weighing and combining their anticipated feelings for salesperson good at persuading consumers to buy something tends each option (Mellers et al., 1999; Mellers and McGraw, 2001). to be characterized by high nonverbal expressiveness, particularly in During face-to-face interactions, when presented with a request, face-to-face persuasions (Friedman et al., 1980). Correlational individuals are aware that their decisions will be evaluated studies have found that facial expressiveness is positively correlated immediately, and the emotions (positive ones with a “yes” such as with trait extraversion and negatively correlated with trait neuroticism happiness and relief, and negative ones with a “no” such as anger (Riggio and Riggio, 2002), while extraversion is positively related to and disappointment) are likely to manifest on the requester’s face persuasiveness and neuroticism is negatively related to persuasiveness (Ekman, 1993; Fanghänel et al., 2006; Schwaninger et al., 2006). (Oreg and Sverdlik, 2014). We therefore hypothesize that the er Th efore, we propose that anticipated facial feedback from requester’s facial expressiveness will moderate the face effect. When the requester is an important source of information in the requester’s face is inexpressive, the face effect will disappear due deciding whether to comply with requests and that the individual to the failure of “sending” anticipated facial feedback. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 3 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 2499 Liu et al. Sensitivity-to-Face and Expressiveness in Face Effect of Compliance H3: In face-to-face interactions, individuals are more likely to conversations, the stylist described the same promotion for the comply with a request when the requester’s face is expressive VIP membership card and asked the customer directly whether than when the requester’s face is inexpressive. they chose to buy it or not. Both the face-to-face conversation and the booklet reading occurred between the end of the service and We next conduct one field study and two lab experiments to payment for the service, so that the customers could benefit from test our hypotheses. the price discount instantly if they decided to purchase the membership card. As the dependent variable, if the customer chose to pay for the card at the end of the service, her choice was coded as compliance with promotion. Written informed consent was STUDY 1 obtained from the participating customers in this study. We conducted a field study in a beauty salon to test the face effect in a real-world setting and H2 that the face effect is stronger when Results and Discussion individuals are sensitive to face and weaker when they are We analyzed the data using a logistic regression model with insensitive. e Th beauty salon is located in an Asian city with a compliance as the dependent variable, and promotion type and population of 2.8 million. The salon manager agreed to help with sensitivity priming as two independent variables. e Th results the experiment in exchange for advice on promotional strategies. showed a nonsignificant simple effect of promotion type (χ (1) = 2.17 and p = 0.14) and a nonsignificant simple effect of Participants, Design, and Procedure sensitivity priming (χ (1) = 0.36 and p = 0.55), qualified by a One hundred and twenty-six female customers participated in significant interaction between promotion type and sensitivity the experiment. The experiment used a 2 (promotion type: face- priming (χ (1) = 3.84 and p = 0.05). As can be seen in Figure 1, to-face request vs. written request) × 2 (sensitivity priming: the face effect was moderated by sensitivity to face. Customers sensitive to face vs. sensitive to hair) between-subjects design. receiving a facial service were more likely to purchase the Two specific services—hair cutting and facial cleaning—were membership card under the face-to-face promotion than under used in this study, since they were both basic services and were the written request (67 vs. 14%; χ (1) = 13.97 and p < 0.001). This offered at the same price in the salon. Solomon et al. (1997) difference between face-to-face promotion and written request showed that exposure to a brief orientation related to facial conditions (35 vs. 19%; χ (1) = 2.17 and p = 0.14) was nonsignificant movements increases sensitivity to emotions communicated by when customers received a hair service. facial expressions. Hair was employed in this experiment as a In conclusion, the beauty salon experiment demonstrated the competing channel against face (Hall et al., 2005). During a hair face effect in a real-world setting. This study showed that face-to- cutting session, customers had their hair washed, cut, and blown face interactions increased likelihood of customer compliance with dry and then received suggestions from stylists on how to style the request to buy a membership card, compared with situations and care for their hair. During a facial cleaning session, customers without face-to-face interactions. Customer sensitivity to face received a deep cleaning of their face, a facial massage, plucking moderated the face effect, such that the face effect was stronger of the eyebrows and suggestions from stylists on skin care. Both when customers were sensitive to face and weaker when they were services ranged from 20 to 30 min in duration. Customers who insensitive, consistent with H2. One weakness of Study 1 was that required both hair service and facial service in one trip were different sensitivity priming groups were divided using a self- excluded from the experiment. selection method rather than randomization, due to the limitations e c Th ustomers entered the salon and required a certain type of of field experiments. Next, we conducted two lab studies to examine service for themselves. Depending on the service they requested the hypotheses in a more controlled setting. upon entering the store, customers self-selected themselves into either the sensitive to face group or the sensitive to hair group. Following the manipulation by Solomon et al. (1997), sensitivity (sensitive to face vs. sensitive to hair) was heightened by 1) stylists stimulating the customer’s face (vs. cutting the customer’s hair) for about half an hour and 2) stylists talking with the customer about taking care of the face (vs. hair) in the service session. e s Th alon oer ff ed a 20% discount on all services if customers purchased a membership card. The price of the membership card was equivalent to US$30. Aer t ft he service, the stylist requested the customers to buy a membership card, either via face-to-face conversation or by giving the customer the membership card booklet (written request). The booklet described the promotion as customers getting 20% discount on all services oer ff ed by the salon when purchasing a VIP membership card. The customers could FIGURE 1 | Compliance with promotion as a function of promotion type tick the “Yes” box on the booklet indicating their compliance if and sensitivity priming in Study 1. they chose to purchase the membership card. In the face-to-face Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 4 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 2499 Liu et al. Sensitivity-to-Face and Expressiveness in Face Effect of Compliance expressions are concerned about the actual or imagined facial STUDY 2 feedback (Modigliani, 1971; Todorov et al., 2008; Ruggiero et al., We designed Study 2 to test the psychological mechanism 2017). underlying the face effect, anticipated facial feedback (H1), in a lab experiment. We also examined the interactive effect of sensitivity Results and Discussion to face and facial expressiveness on compliance in face-to-face We performed an ANOVA with sensitivity priming and facial interactions to identify two important boundary conditions of the expressiveness as the independent variables and willingness to face effect. Since the successful nonverbal communication of donate as the dependent variable. The results showed a nonsignificant emotions is comprised of both “sending” and “receiving” nonverbal simple effect of sensitivity priming ( F(1, 117) = 0.02, p = 0.88, and messages accurately (Buck et al., 1972), we predicted that the effect η = 0.00) and a nonsignificant simple effect of facial expressiveness of anticipated facial feedback on compliance would disappear when (F(1, 117) = 2.02, p = 0.16, and η = 0.02). Consistent with H3, the individuals are insensitive to face, even if the requester’s face is results revealed a significant two-way interaction between sensitivity expressive. priming and facial expressiveness (F(1, 117) = 4.09, p = 0.05, and η = 0.03). As shown in Figure 2, participants who practiced a facial massage on themselves were more willing to donate when the Design, Participants, and Procedure research assistant was expressive relative to when the assistant was One hundred and twenty-one students from a North American inexpressive (M = 5.04 vs. M = 3.73; t(117) = 2.44 and University were recruited to attend the experiment in exchange expressive inexpressive p = 0.02). In contrast, the willingness to donate the participants for cash payment. The study employed a 2 (sensitivity priming: who practiced a hand massage on themselves was not significantly sensitive to face vs. sensitive to hand) × 2 (facial expressiveness: aeff cted by the research assistant’s facial expressiveness expressive vs. inexpressive) between-subjects design. Hands were (M = 4.32 vs. M = 4.55; t(117) = −0.43 and p = 0.67). selected in this experiment as a competing channel against face expressive inexpressive Further, to test whether anticipated facial feedback from the (Hall et al., 2005). requester drives these effects, we analyzed our data using an SPSS Ae ft r signing the informed consent forms, participants were first procedure designed by Hayes (2013; PROCESS model 8, sample directed to read several pages of step-by-step self-massage size = 5,000). We ran a model using participants’ concern for facial instructions and practice the massage skills for several minutes feedback as a mediator of the interactive effect of sensitivity priming before demonstrating them to the research assistant. The participants and facial expressiveness on willingness to donate. The indirect were randomly instructed to read an instruction of a facial massage effect of the highest order interaction had a 95% bias-corrected routine to increase their sensitivity to face or an instruction of a bootstrap confidence interval (CI) ranging from 0.04 to 0.95 (effect hand massage routine to distract attention from face. To verify the size = 0.34 and SE = 0.22), excluding zero. Specifically, the confidence success of the manipulation, we performed an analysis of variance interval ranged from 0.02 to 0.62 (effect size = 0.22 and SE = 0.15) (ANOVA) to calculate participants’ rating of their attention to face. in the face massage (sensitive to face) condition, supporting e r Th esults indicated that participants in the face massage condition mediation, while the confidence interval ranged from −0.48 to 0.06 rated their sensitivity to face higher than those in the hand massage (effect size = −0.12 and SE = 0.13) in the hand massage (sensitive condition (M = 5.72 vs. M = 5.20; F(1, 119) = 5.56, face massage hand massage to hand) condition, not supporting mediation. Thus, it provided p = 0.02, and η = 0.05). evidence of a significant indirect effect, supporting H1. The research assistant then distributed an ostensibly unrelated Overall, Study 2 demonstrated that 1) sensitivity to face and questionnaire to participants to collect their responses regarding requester’s facial expressiveness ae ff ct individual compliance in their willingness to donate half of their participation fee to the face-to-face interactions and 2) anticipated facial feedback serves local community library. In the expressive condition, the research as the driving force behind the face effect. assistant interacted with participants with lively facial expressions. In the inexpressive condition, the research assistant maintained a relatively impassive facial expression. To avoid suspicion regarding the purpose of the study, we did not include questions related to facial expressiveness in the questionnaire. Rather, we checked the manipulation of facial expressiveness orally during the debriefing. Seventeen participants in the inexpressive condition noted that the research assistant did not demonstrate many facial expressions, and they did not find this inexpressiveness strange. e dep Th endent measure in our analysis, participants’ willingness to donate, was measured with a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (very unwilling) to 7 (very willing). As the measurement for anticipated facial feedback, participants indicated their concern for others’ facial feedback using a Likert-type scale ranging from FIGURE 2 | Compliance with donation request as a function of sensitivity 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much). This is because individuals seeking priming and facial expressiveness in Study 2. social approval and taking actions based on other’s facial Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 5 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 2499 Liu et al. Sensitivity-to-Face and Expressiveness in Face Effect of Compliance (M = 1.20 vs. M = 4.33; t(52) = −10.18 and STUDY 3 inexpressive-untimely expressive p < 0.001) and inexpressive-blank group (M = 1.20 inexpressive-untimely Given that anticipated presence can exert enough social influence vs. M = 3.63; t(52) = −7.22 and p < 0.001). These results inexpressive-blank and change behavior (Modigliani, 1971), we used videos in Study suggested that the manipulation of inexpressiveness was successful 3 to simulate face-to-face interactions to test if anticipated facial with both the blank and untimely conditions. feedback, not actual facial feedback, was enough to drive the face After a filler task, the participants watched the second video, effect. In this experiment, the participants watched a narrator’s which was the same across all conditions (except the written face and its expressions in a video while the narrator was talking request group). In the second video, participants again saw the with a background voice (except in the written request condition), same narrator in the same setting. The narrator asked the and the expressiveness of the narrator’s face was varied as a participants to choose whether to donate money to a local manipulation of the facial feedback that the participants anticipated childcare program. Since the participants were not going to see from the narrator. the narrator after their decision, there would be no actual facial We also manipulated inexpressiveness with two different feedback but anticipated facial feedback. We used compliance conditions—untimely expression and blank expression—to with the donation request as the dependent variable in this further test H3 that facial expressiveness of the requester impacts experiment. Participants also rated the attractiveness of the the face effect on individual compliance. The nonverbal narrator and the weirdness of the recorded video conversation communication relies on quick and powerful transmission of at a seven-point scale as control variables. the effect ( Friedman et al., 1980), suggesting that the immediacy and salience of facial expressions are likely to elicit anticipated Results and Discussion facial feedback from the requester in face-to-face interactions. e r Th esults indicated a significant effect of group on compliance Therefore, we predicted that untimely or blank expressions 2 (χ (3) = 7.62 and p = 0.06; displayed in Figure 3). A pairwise test would lead to inexpressiveness in sending the facial feedback showed that the expressive group had a significantly higher and hence hinder the face effect. percentage of compliance with request than the inexpressive-blank group (63 vs. 25%; χ (1) = 5.07 and p = 0.02), the inexpressive- Participants, Design, and Procedure 2 untimely group (63 vs. 33%; χ (1) = 3.03 and p = 0.08), and the Seventy-two students from a North American University 2 written request group (63 vs. 29%; χ (1) = 4.17 and p = 0.04). er Th e participated in this experiment for course credit. Aer sig ft ning was no significant difference in individual compliance between the the informed consent form, they watched two videos. In the first inexpressive-blank, inexpressive-untimely, and written request video, participants watched a short conversation between a 2 groups (χ (2) = 0.26 and p = 0.88). narrator, whose face appeared in the center of the camera, and a We also conducted an ANOVA with group as the independent female background voice. Both male and female narrators were variable and attractiveness of narrator and perceived weirdness used to rule out any potential effect of gender. The conversation of video conversation as dependent variables. The results showed focused on a term paper the narrator was working on. The that participants from the three video groups did not perceive participants were randomly assigned into one of four groups. For the narrator’s attractiveness as significantly different ( F(2, the expressive group, the narrator in the first video displayed 2 52) = 1.47, p = 0.24, and η = 0.05). Similarly, participants did appropriate and lively facial expressions when talking to the not perceive the different video conditions as significantly background voice. For the inexpressive-blank group, the narrator different in terms of weirdness ( F(2, 52) = 1.32, p = 0.28, and displayed blank facial expressions throughout the video. For the 2 η = 0.05). These results helped to rule out these two factors as inexpressive-untimely group, the narrator displayed appropriate confounding variables. and lively facial expressions just like in the expressive group. However, each of the facial expressions was delayed for 5–10 s over the conversation. For the written request group, participants answered the compliance question via a paper-pencil questionnaire without watching the two videos, hence there was no anticipated facial feedback by video. Manipulation check showed a significant difference between the three video groups in terms of facial expressiveness (F(2, 52) = 7.69, p = 0.001, and η = 0.23) and timeliness (F(2, 52) = 53.41, p < 0.001, and η = 0.67). Planned contrasts indicated that participants rated facial feedback in the expressive group as significantly more expressive than both the inexpressive-blank group (M = 4.33 vs. M = 2.63; t(52) = 3.85 and expressive inexpressive-blank p < 0.001) and the inexpressive-untimely group (M = 4.33 expressive vs. M = 3.33; t(52) = 2.21 and p = 0.03). Participants inexpressive-untimely FIGURE 3 | Compliance with donation request as a function of facial in the inexpressive-untimely group rated the facial expressions expressiveness in Study 3. significantly less timely than the expressive group Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 6 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 2499 Liu et al. Sensitivity-to-Face and Expressiveness in Face Effect of Compliance e r Th esults of Study 3 were consistent with findings in Study 1, Methodologically, we conducted the three experiments with such that expressive facial feedback can promote compliance with varied individual choices (i.e., donating money, purchasing services requests relative to the written requests. Further, Study 3 demonstrated and products) in both an Asian city (Study 1) and a North American that the face effect disappeared when anticipated facial feedback was University (Studies 2 and 3), demonstrating robustness of our inexpressive, whether the inexpressiveness was caused by blank or findings in different contexts across different cultures. The use of untimely facial expressions. Participants in this study were not going a field experiment, real and video-simulated face-to-face to see the narrator aer t ft heir decision. Therefore, the results also interactions, and differential manipulations of sensitivity to face indicated that the face effect is largely attributable to anticipated, not and facial expressiveness enhances the external validity and actual, facial feedback from the requester. generalizability of our findings. Empirical Implications GENERAL DISCUSSION In addition to theoretical contributions, this article also has implications for individuals and practitioners. From the perspective Theoretical Contributions of individuals, this research helps to understand factors that drive With one field study and two lab experiments, we examine the and influence compliance tendency in face-to-face interactions. feedback mechanism that face-to-face interactions generate. Despite Individuals oen face t ft radeoffs of conflicting interests when asked the importance of face-to-face interactions in inducing compliance, to comply with a request (Cialdini, 2001). For instance, there is a the mechanism behind the face effect has rarely been explicitly choice between strengthening a friendship and enjoying personal explored (Gerber and Green, 2000; Roghanizad and Bohns, 2017). time when a friend asks an individual to complete a time-consuming Taken together, the results show that anticipated facial feedback, not task. The mechanism revealed in the present research helps necessarily actual feedback, drives compliance in face-to-face individuals to resist unwanted social influences consciously. This interactions. Specifically, based on research showing that individuals article also indicates how to increase compliance on the requester’s approach positive facial expressions and avoid negative ones (Ruggiero side by, for example, making a request face to face and showing et al., 2017), we show that individuals tend to comply with face-to-face expressive facial expressions. Therefore, this article contributes to requests due to the concern for the anticipated facial feedback from individual decisions and welfare improvement. the requester. The facial feedback, or information conveyed by facial This research also has considerable implications for practitioners. expressions during interpersonal interactions, is an essential factor Consider, for example, that many managers oen t ft rain salespeople in social inferences (Todorov et al., 2008; Ueda et al., 2017), and thus and service staff to simply keep smiling at consumers, showing a is likely to play a critical role in individual compliance. Therefore, this relatively inexpressive face. This research indicates that managers research helps to fill the theoretical void and provides new insights could develop more nuanced training related to consumer into the psychological process of the face effect. sensitivity to face and facial expressiveness for salespeople and Moreover, the results show that the face effect is weaker when service staff interacting with consumers face to face. Employees individuals are not sensitive to face (Studies 1 and 2) or when the that display demonstrative (both positive and negative, and timely) requester’s face is inexpressive (Studies 2 and 3). Therefore, facial expressions are more likely to gain purchasing compliance we identify two important boundary conditions of the face effect from consumers. The face effect also suggests that companies could by testing the respective roles of sensitivity to face and requester’s add face elements to their largely faceless telephone transactions facial expressiveness. In so doing, this research furthers our and online sales. With the development of virtual agents, we suggest understanding of factors that ae ff ct individual compliance in face- that the websites must amplify consumer sensitivity to face and to-face interactions in both the “sending” and “receiving” stages provide the virtual agents with expressive and salient human-like (Buck et al., 1972). Particularly, we showed that inexpressiveness, faces. with either blank faces or untimely facial expressions, mitigates the face effect in the “sending” stage. This increases our understanding from the perspective of requesters (e.g., nonprot fi Limitations and Future Research organizations, service sta, a ff nd salespeople), which is largely This research has several limitations. For instance, it is not clear neglected in the social influence research ( Bohns, 2016). Therefore, which type of anticipated facial feedback (i.e., positive or our findings provide important insights into the burgeoning negative) is driving the effects in the present research. Prior work research of individual perceptions of their social influence on has shown that the effect of negative emotions and feedback such others (Roghanizad and Bohns, 2017), as well as present valuable as embarrassment is more pronounced than positive ones contributions to studies on individual compliance, facial (Baumeister et al., 2001; Bohns, 2016). On the other hand, an expressions, and communications. With regard to the “receiving” imagination of positive experience after decision may also stage, although previous studies have mainly focused on the bright increase the likelihood of compliance (Petrova and Cialdini, side of interpersonal sensitivity (Kenny et al., 2010; Hall et al., 2008). Further, it is not clear which specific anticipated feedback 2015), the current research points to the conditions under which (e.g., disgust, anger, sadness, or happiness) is the most effective. sensitivity backfires. That is, when an individual is sensitive to the Since face-to-face interactions are a complex process and contain face of the interactive partner, she or he is more likely to comply numerous nonverbal cues (Short et al., 1976; Song et al., 2016), with requests in face-to-face interactions. there can be latent variables other than the anticipated or actual Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 7 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 2499 Liu et al. Sensitivity-to-Face and Expressiveness in Face Effect of Compliance facial feedback. Many direct evidence is needed to examine these AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS questions in future studies. e c Th urrent research also opens doors to future research ML designed and conducted the studies. ML and QZ wrote the opportunities. One research direction could be in the strategic choice paper. QZ analyzed the data. YY provided critical revision of the of face-to-face interactions: when will individuals try to engage in, or paper. avoid, face-to-face interactions? Future studies could also investigate other boundary conditions of the face effect, such as situational factors. For instance, frequent or intensive contact from the requester may FUNDING activate suspicion of her or his ulterior motives (Liu et al., 2019), thus weakening the face effect. The structure of the face-to-face interactions, This research is supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71472105), the Beijing such as a large number of interactive partners (vs. a few) and the presence of other visual stimuli, can also significantly ae ff ct how Social Science Foundation Key Program (Grant No. 18GLA005), and Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program individuals perceive facial feedback and expressiveness. (Grant No. 20175080130) awarded to ML. ETHICS STATEMENT ACKNOWLEDGMENTS e s Th tudies in the research were approved by the Ethics Review Boards of the University of Toronto and the School of Economics We thank Dilip Soman for the advice on the article and Hae Joo Kim for assistance in the studies. and Management, Tsinghua University. Gross, J. J., and Levenson, R. W. (1993). Emotional suppression: physiology, REFERENCES self-report, and expressive behavior. J. Pers. Soc. 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The use, distribution Lett. 27, 89–101. doi: 10.1007/s11002-014-9315-0 or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the o Th mpson, A. E., and Voyer, D. (2014). Sex differences in the ability to recognise non- copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, verbal displays of emotion: a meta-analysis. Cognit. Emot. 28, 1164–1195. doi: in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is 10.1080/02699931.2013.875889 permitted which does not comply with these terms. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 9 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 2499
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