March  2006      Vol. 15, No. 3  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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Service Psychology
Study shows women tend to smile more and be friendlier to customers than men

According to Israeli psychologist Anat Rafaeli, store clerks smile more often when serving customers of the opposite sex and women make friendlier employees than men.

As reported in Psychology Today, Rafaeli sent teams of observers into nearly 600 convenience stores, all part of a national chain, to clandestinely observe more than 11,000 clerk-customer exchanges.

He discovered that more smiles, greetings, and eye contact occurred when female clerks waited on male customers and vice versa. Rafaeli says, that because people are warmer and friendlier in social situations to members of the opposite sex, that some of this naturally spills over into work situations.

His teams also saw more positive emotions when clerks were wearing name tags and company smocks, regardless of the sex of the customer. Rafaeli believes “this reflects the process of employees ‘putting on’ an organizational face when they put on their smock and name tag.” Uniforms act as cues for employees to take on their business identity and to com ply with company policy.

Rafaeli wasn’t surprised to learn women were friendlier to customers than men were, thanking people, smiling, and making eye contact more often. He believes this reflects traditional expectations that women should act in a warm and friendly manner.

Contact: Glennis McClure, REAP Co-Director at or 402.645.3296.
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