Marianne LaFrance is an experimental social psychologist and a professor at Yale University. In the introduction to this book, she notes: "Smiles are universally recognized and understood for what they show and convey, yet not necessarily for what they do. Smiles are much more than cheerful expressions. They are social acts with consequences."

Peppering her text with illustrative material from scientific studies, research projects, literature, and pop culture, the author delivers a treasure trove of insights into smiles of men, women, and children around the world. This facial expression of an infant or an elder can light up a room. Smiles can bring people together and break down walls that divide.

LaFrance provides a wide assortment of information and insights into the meanings and messages of frozen smiles, two-faced smiles, smile politics, service with a smile, smiles with a foreign accent, and smiles for the camera.