The psychological study of the smile. (2023)

A smile begins in our sensory corridors. The ear catches a whispered word. On the platform, you see an old friend. His hand feels the pressure of another hand. These emotional data are sent to the brain, excite the left anterior temporal region in particular, and then slowly spread to the surface of the face, where two tense muscles come into action: the zygomaticus major, which sits on the cheek, pulls the lips turned up, and the orbicularis oculi, which surrounds the eye socket, compresses the outer corners in a crow's-foot fashion. The entire event is brief, typically lasting two-thirds to four seconds, and witnesses often respond by mirroring the action and smiling back.

Other muscles can simulate a smile, but only the peculiar tango of the zygomaticus major and orbicularis oculi creates a real expression of positive emotions. Psychologists call this the "Duchenne smile" and most consider it the only indicator of true pleasure. It is named after the French anatomist Guillaume Duchenne, who studied emotional expression by stimulating various facial muscles with electrical currents. (The technique is said to be so painful that Duchenne performed some of his tests on the severed heads of executed criminals.) In his 1862 book Mecanisme de la Physionomie Humaine, Duchenne wrote that the zygomaticus major can be compelled to act, but that only the "sweet sentiments of the soul" compel the orbicularis oculi to contract. "His laziness of his in smiling," Duchenne wrote, "exposes a false friend."

Headless villains are no longer studied by psychologists, mostly graduate students, but they have expanded our understanding of smiles since the Duchenne discoveries. We now know that real smiles can reflect a "sweet soul." The intensity of a genuine smile can predict marital happiness, personal well-being, and even longevity. We know that some smiles, Duchenne's false friends, do not reflect joy, but rather a wide range of emotions, including shame, deceit, and sadness. We know that variables (including age, gender, culture, and social background) affect the frequency and character of a smile, and the purpose a smile serves in the larger scheme of things. In short, scientists have learned that one of humanity's simplest expressions is wonderfully complex.

A true "sign of pleasure"

It took some time for Duchenne's observations to be accepted by behavioral scientists. In 1924, Carney Landis, then a psychology student at the University of Minnesota, published a classic—and ethically dubious by today's standards—study on human facial expressions. Landis photographed study participants engaging in a variety of activities ranging from the sacred to the profane: listening to jazz, reading the Bible, viewing pornography, and decapitating live mice. He analyzed the photographed reactions, but found no evidence that specific expressions identified specific emotions. As for the smile, Landis couldn't associate it with satisfaction; In fact, the smile was so ubiquitous that Landis considered it a constant response, "typical of any situation," he wrote in the Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Many psychologists have agreed for decades that smiles reflect a wide range of emotions rather than a universal expression of happiness. This belief persisted until the 1970s, when Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen, psychologists at the University of California, San Francisco, recorded the exact muscle coordinates behind 3,000 facial expressions in their Facial Action Coding System, known as FACS. Ekman and Friesen used their system to revive Duchenne's then-forgotten distinction between genuine smiles of joy and other types of smiles.

(Video) The Psychology of a Smile | Ryan Lowe | TEDxSugarLand

In subsequent research conducted with Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, Ekman and Friesen confirmed the unique connection between positive emotions and a genuine Duchenne smile. The researchers attached electrodes to the subjects' heads and then showed a series of short films. Two short films meant to evoke positive emotions featured animals at play; Two others that were intended to provoke negative reactions came from a nurse training video showing amputated legs and severe burns.

Using the FACS, the researchers cataloged viewer reactions and found that Duchenne smiles were correlated with entertaining movies. The neural data showed that Duchenne smiles elicited increased activity in the left anterior temporal region of the brain, an area with clear connections to positive affect. (They also recorded an increase in the left parietal region, which is usually stimulated by verbal activity.) In general, scientists erred in lumping smiles together as a "single class of behavior," the trio concluded in a 2000 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1990. "The Duchenne smile is clearly a better sign of happiness than the Duchenne smile." other types of smiles.

A renewed appreciation for Duchenne and his unique sign of joy emerged. Psychiatric researchers soon discovered that whenever positive emotions surfaced, they were followed by a Duchenne smile. Patients with depression exhibited more Duchenne smiles at their exit interviews than when they were admitted, and Duchenne smiles alone, not other types of smiles, were found to increase during the course of psychotherapy. Even the most superficial and inexperienced observer could identify Duchenne-style faces and, based solely on these appearances, attribute extremely positive characteristics to the personality behind them.

Some researchers now believe that real smiles are not fleeting sparks of emotion, but clear windows into a person's basic attitude. University of California, Berkeley psychologists LeeAnne Harker and Dacher Keltner used FACS to analyze photos of women in college yearbooks and then compared smile ratings to personality data collected during a 30-year longitudinal study. Women who displayed Duchenne-like expressions of true positive emotions in photographs of her at age 21 had higher levels of general well-being and marital satisfaction at age 52. "People photograph themselves with unrestrained ease and remarkable frequency, often without realizing that each snapshot can capture both the future and the fleeting emotions of the moment," Harker and Keltner write in a 2001 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. A related study published in Motivation and Emotion in 2009 confirmed a correlation between poor smiles in adolescence and divorce later in life.

In a more recent study published this year in Psychological Science, Ernest Abel and Michael Kruger of Wayne State University expanded this line of research from emotional to biological outcomes: longevity. Abel and Kruger classified the smiles of professional baseball players recorded in a 1952 yearbook and determined each player's age at death (46 players were alive at the time of the study). The researchers found that smile intensity could explain 35% of the variability in survival; In fact, players with a Duchenne smile in their yearbook photo were only half as likely to die each year as those without.

A "vehicle for all ambiguities"

(Video) The hidden power of smiling | Ron Gutman

Landis was right about one thing about smiling: Not all smiles are a genuine expression of happiness. In addition to the Duchenne smile, Ekman described seventeen other types of smiles in his 1985 book Telling Lies. Herman Melville understood this and once called the smile "the medium of choice for all ambiguities." People smile when they are scared, flirty, surprised, or hurt. An embarrassed smile is indicated by an averted look, a touch to the face, and a tilt of the head down and to the left.

People also smile when they lie, a fact that Shakespeare does not miss: Hamlet marvels at "how one can smile and smile and be a villain." In the late 1960s, Ekman and Friesen theorized that a trained expert could tell a lying face from an honest face. To test this idea, the researchers asked a group of young nurses to watch a disturbing video and then tell an interviewer that they had indeed seen an entertaining video. Their facial expressions during this lie were captured on video and analyzed by FACS.

Compared with smiles reported in candid interviews, lying nurses showed fewer genuine Duchenne smiles, Ekman and Freisen reported in a 1988 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, co-authored with Maureen O'Sullivan of the University of San Francisco. written. The deceitful smile was betrayed by a raised upper lip, revealing a hint of disgust, or by the downturned corners of the mouth, showing a hint of sadness. Ekman's work with lies later inspired the television show Lie to Me, in which investigators solve crimes by interpreting facial expressions.

It is not uncommon for moments of sadness or even pain to bring about a smile. The world's most recognizable smile is fascinating precisely because it can display a variety of moods; Bob Dylan described the Mona Lisa as the "blues of the highway." (Harvard neurobiologist Margaret Livingstone argued in a 2000 Science article that La Gioconda's smile exists in your peripheral vision but disappears when you look directly into her mouth, see inset.)

However, it seems that smiling is good for the body in difficult times. Keltner and George Bonanno from Catholic University measured the facial expressions of people talking about a recently deceased spouse. In a 1997 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers reported less distress in those who displayed a genuine Duchenne laugh during arguments compared to those who did not.

The benefits of smiling during grief also appear to be biological. Barbara Fredrickson and Robert Levenson once observed the facial expressions of 72 people watching a funeral scene in the horror film Steel Magnolias. Not only did fifty of the participants smile at least once during the clip, the authors reported in a 1998 article in Cognition and Emotion, but those who did recovered to baseline cardiovascular values ​​faster than those who couldn't smile. .

(Video) Just Smile! (Psychology of Happiness #8)

A "contingent social ad"

Smiling certainly seems to be built into our nature. None other than Darwin, whose 1872 book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals is considered a seminal work in the study of the smile, argued that facial expressions were universal products of human evolution rather than unique principles of one's culture. The zygomatic major has a long evolutionary history, says University of Pittsburgh expressionist Jeffrey Cohn, and the facial muscles used to smile are found in all humans. "There is good evidence that the motor routine associated with smiling is innate," says Cohn. "The hardware is there."

It is not surprising, then, that newborns are capable of making and interpreting facial expressions with great precision. With only 10 months z. For example, a small child gives a fake smile to an approaching stranger while reserving a genuine Duchenne smile for his mother. Decades ago, Cohn observed how 3-month-old babies responded to changes in their mother's expression. When mothers feigned depression, babies would pump up their tiny fists in despair and flinch after just 3 minutes without a smile.

As babies grow, their tendency to smile differs based on their gender. The ability to achieve a Duchenne smile is evenly distributed between the genders, but men say they smile less than women, and both genders believe this to be the case. So do behavioral scientists, who are almost unanimously convinced that women smile more than men. In general, this seems to be true. But the differences in smiling behavior between men and women depend on several key factors. A few years ago, a research team led by Yale psychologist Marianne LaFrance conducted an extensive meta-analysis of smiling research, analyzing data from 162 studies and a total of more than 100,000 participants, and isolating three variables that influence in the smile: Sexual inequalities in the smile.

One moderator is gender norms: when people know they're being watched, the gender gap in smiling is larger than when people think they're alone. The second is situational constraint: when men and women share a task or role that follows strict social rules, such as those that require flight attendants to smile and undertakers to remain somber, the gap in smile is reduced. A third moderator is the emotional climate: embarrassing or socially tense situations make women smile more than men, but happy or sad situations do not. Smiling, LaFrance and his collaborators concluded in a 2003 issue of Psychological Bulletin, "it's a highly contingent social display."

"If you ask the people who smile the most, they'll all say, 'Women, of course,'" says LaFrance, whose book on smile research, Lip Service, is co-authored by W.W. Norton next summer. "What people don't take as much into account, both inside and outside of the field of psychology, is how variable the smile is depending on the context of a social situation."

(Video) The Smile Test

Part of this variability is the viewer's cultural background. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2007 highlights the different perceptions of smiles between Americans and Japanese. When viewing the emoticons, the Americans located the expression in the mouth and saw 🙂 as happy and 🙁 as sad, while the Japanese found it in the eyes and ^_^ as happy and ;_; how tearful. The variation may reflect an American tendency to express emotions and a Japanese tendency to repress them; After all, as Duchenne well knew, the mouth is easier to manipulate into a smile than the eyes (see photos opposite). A back-up study published earlier this year found that Japanese participants emphasized the top half of a face when determining its trustworthiness, while Americans focused on the bottom half.

The presence of the people around us can also influence our smile. An experiment conducted by Robert Kraut and published in a 1979 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported that bowlers smiled more often when looking at their friends in the box than when watching the bowling alley. Of course, people smile to themselves, but many believe that the social context pulls our lips more than pure, isolated emotion. Alan Fridlund of the University of California, Santa Barbara found that people smile more when imagining other people around them than when they are alone, even when their general levels of happiness remain the same.

Meaning altruism and attraction.

It stands to reason that if our smiles are affected by social settings, it is likely that smiling has a social purpose. One of those functions, according to recent findings, could be to indicate altruism. To test this notion, a team of researchers led by British behaviorist Marc Mehu observed the smiles of test subjects who were instructed to share part of the license plate with a friend. When people were involved in this sharing activity, they showed more Duchenne smiles than in a neutral setting. Perhaps people emit genuine smiles to "reliably announce altruistic intentions," Mehu and his colleagues concluded in a 2007 issue of Evolution and Human Behavior.

It makes sense that the Duchenne smile heralds a cooperative nature. After all, one person's commitment has obvious social value, and a real smile is hard to fake. The ability to identify a truly clustered individual would be especially useful for people vulnerable to social exclusion. With this in mind, a group of researchers from Miami University in Ohio recently asked test subjects to rate different smiles as real or fake. Prior to the assignment, some were prepared for expulsion through a writing assignment in which they had to write about a time when they were rejected. Compared with a control group and others primed for inclusion, excluded participants showed better ability to distinguish Duchenne smiles from fake ones, the authors reported in Psychological Science in 2008.

People not only gain useful information from a smile, but also use this knowledge to guide their own behavior. In a follow-up experiment published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2010, the same researchers found that people who were primed for exclusion showed a greater preference for working with people who displayed a genuine Duchenne smile than those who did. a cheap smile . "Duchenne smiles are a sign of collaboration, of altruism," says Michael Bernstein, now at Penn State Abington, lead author of both papers. "Smiling without Duchenne isn't necessarily a bad thing, it doesn't mean you're threatening, but it's not a good sign. [Social outcasts] should look for the best sign, and the Duchenne smile offers an even better sign."

(Video) The Psychology of a Smile | Why Smiling Works

Another function of smiling (and one that is supported by anecdotal evidence) is that it increases our attractiveness. One of the most famous figures in American literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jay Gatsby, had an irresistible smile that was "guaranteed to give exactly the impression of you that you hoped to give in your prime." Science, for its part, has identified part of the reason behind the allure of big smiles. A recent fMRI study found that seeing attractive faces activates the brain's orbitofrontal cortex, a region involved in processing sensory rewards. While this was true for all pretty cups, activity in this region was even stronger when the face in focus was smiling. "The presence of a smile can provide an important cue about whether or not a reward is obtainable," the researchers write in Neuropsychology (2003). Although some might argue that when the brain sees a smile, it has already thought about the reward obtained.


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What does psychology say about people who smile a lot? ›

Those who smile or laugh often will tend to be happier, more energetic, and healthier. On the other end of the spectrum, a grumpy person may have an identity connected with feeling unloved, victimized, or marginalized. Smiling is also connected with having a peaceful existence with others.

Is smiling a psychological response? ›

Smiling is a sign of both biological and psychological stability. More often than not, walking around with a grin on your face is a sign that you will be more successful, for longer periods of time and in all areas of life (compared to someone who holds less positive facial expressions).

Is faking a smile enough to improve your mood? ›

New international research has shown that posing with a fake smile can make people feel happier, but it doesn't change their levels of anger or anxiety.

What did Duchenne learn about a real smile compared to a fake smile? ›

Discovered by French anatomist Duchenne de Boulogne in 1862, the key difference between this “real” happy smile and a “fake” happy smile lies in the orbicularis oculi – muscles that wrap around the eyes. All smiling involves contraction of the zygomatic major muscles, which lifts the corners of the mouth.

What can a smile tell you about someone? ›

Friendly, trustworthy, and agreeable. When you flash a genuine smile, it's an open invitation saying you're friendly and willing to interact with others. You're also perceived as more trustworthy and agreeable. A true smile shows you're willing to cooperate and that you're worthy of another person's time and attention.

What is a condition that makes you smile a lot? ›

Angelman syndrome is a genetic disorder. It causes delayed development, problems with speech and balance, intellectual disability, and, sometimes, seizures. People with Angelman syndrome often smile and laugh frequently, and have happy, excitable personalities.

Should you trust someone who smiles all the time? ›

It's thought that people who smile are considered to be trustworthy. People who struggle to curve their lips upward are considered by their counterparts to be unreliable. But a nice smile isn't everything. It can also be deceptive, and sometimes even hurt your career.

How does smiling affect your mental health? ›

When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come into play too. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, whereas the serotonin is an antidepressant.

What is the most genuine smile? ›

A Duchenne smile is the one that reaches your eyes, making the corners wrinkle up with crow's feet. It's the smile most of us recognize as the most authentic expression of happiness. Non-Duchenne smiles shouldn't necessarily be considered “fake,” however.

How can I trick my mind into being happy? ›

10 Ways To “Trick” Ourselves Into Being Happier
  1. Surround Yourself With Smiling People. ...
  2. Be a Smiling Person Yourself. ...
  3. Enjoy a Tasty and Healthy Meal. ...
  4. Have a Green Thumb. ...
  5. Try the 5 Percent Trick. ...
  6. Crank the Tunes. ...
  7. Use Your Money to Do Something Nice for Someone Else. ...
  8. Volunteer for a Favorite Cause.

Does fake smiling lead to happiness? ›

Researchers at Stanford University led a global study involving more than 3,800 participants from 19 countries. After putting them through a variety of tasks, they found when the participants simply mimicked a smile, they felt happier.

Why does forcing a smile make you happy? ›

Research from New York-based neurologist Dr. Isha Gupta also found that the mere act of smiling can increase levels of hormones like dopamine and serotonin in the body. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress.

What is the rarest smile? ›

The rarest smile type is the complex smile, with only an estimated 2% of the population possessing this smile.

What are the 3 types of smiles? ›

The social functions of smiling

Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of smiles: smiles of reward, smiles of affiliation, and smiles of dominance. A smile may be among the most instinctive and simple of expressions — just the hoisting of a couple of facial muscles.

Why do some people's smiles look fake? ›

When people fake a smile, the orbicularis oculi doesn't activate. That's because it's an involuntary muscle that's controlled by the limbic system, or the emotional center of the brain. By contrast, the zygomatic major is controlled by the motor cortex. It activates both spontaneously and voluntarily.

What does a flirtatious smile look like? ›

A flirtatious smile, sometimes called a Mona Lisa smile, is characterized by eye contact, a slight smile, and a slight head tilt. A flirtatious smile also carries with it an intensity that conveys the desire for emotional connection.

What is a dominance smile? ›

A person displaying an affiliative smile intends to be perceived as friendly and polite. Finally, dominance smiles are used to impose and maintain higher social status. The person displaying this type of smile intends to be perceived as superior. Recent research by Rychlowska et al.

What does it mean when a guy stares at you without smiling? ›

He's asserting dominance.

If he's looking at you intensely without smiling and even looks angry or stern, he could be trying to assert his dominance. In this case, his stare will feel like a challenge—in his mind, the weaker one won't be able to keep eye contact.

What mental illness causes you to smile at inappropriate times? ›

Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a condition that's characterized by episodes of sudden uncontrollable and inappropriate laughing or crying. Pseudobulbar affect typically occurs in people with certain neurological conditions or injuries, which might affect the way the brain controls emotion.

What is lazy smile? ›

a lazy movement or smile is slow and relaxed.

What disorder makes it hard to smile? ›

Weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles is one of the most common features of Moebius syndrome. Affected individuals lack facial expressions; they cannot smile, frown, or raise their eyebrows.

Can you be insecure about your smile? ›

Many people are insecure about the way they smile. If you are self-conscious about your smile, it can be a huge problem because this is one of the first things people notice about you. Research shows that most Americans who are insecure about their smiles have spaces between teeth.

What do you call someone who always smiles? ›

Extrovert. If someone is extrovert, they are outgoing, active, and socially confident. An extrovert socializes easily and is generally always smiling.

Why is a smile so valuable? ›

Brilliant smiles radiate joy, excitement, confidence, health and vitality. Your smile plays an important role in the happiness of your everyday life. Stop wishing for that perfect smile. We can restore crooked, cracked and chipped teeth strengthen and whiten teeth, close gaps without orthodontics.

What kind of smile is attractive? ›

To be considered conventionally attractive, your smile should have the same midline (vertical line that splits the face perfectly in half) as your face. If your smile's midline isn't directly between your two central front teeth, it might look unattractive.

What happens if you smile a lot? ›

Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits, including: Reduced blood pressure. Increased endurance. Reduced pain.

What happens to your face when you smile a lot? ›

Smiling is one of the most important facial expressions and can make you look younger. When you smile, the muscles in your face contract and release, which helps to tone your facial muscles. It also helps to improve your complexion by increasing blood flow to your face.

What are features of a perfect smile? ›

The ideal smile involves strict mathematical ratios, the research states. Its width should be no less than the half of the face's width. Both lower and upper lips should be symmetrical on each side of the facial mid-line. The smile should reveal most of the upper teeth and very little or none of the lower teeth.

What is the best smile to have? ›

A smile that is relaxed and genuine is always the best smile, not an obligatory “joker grin.” We know that your teeth are absolutely stunning, but when you flash an overwhelming beam that reveals all of your teeth, it generally seems forced and unpleasant.

Which face shape has the best smile? ›

In general, people with oval faces look good with any type of smile. Those with longer, or more vertical, faces look better with smiles that accentuate the horizontal aspect of their teeth. The opposite is true for rounder faces: A longer-looking grin will balance out facial wideness.

What part of the brain controls sadness? ›

Sadness is associated with increased activity of the right occipital lobe, the left insula, the left thalamus the amygdala and the hippocampus. The hippocampus is strongly linked with memory, and it makes sense that awareness of certain memories is associated with feeling sad.

What emotions cause the behavior of smiling? ›

You smile when you're happy, frown when you're sad, scowl when you're angry—at least, some of the time. After decades of research on emotions, evidence suggests that these signals are a far-from-foolproof way to infer someone's state of mind.

How do you rewire your brain? ›

How to rewire your brain
  1. Take new routes. Every new experience has the potential to enhance your brain's ability to change. ...
  2. Move. A 2018 literature review showed that physical exercise can promote neuroplasticity in general. ...
  3. Practice meditation.
  4. Learn a new skill. ...
  5. Rest.
Nov 12, 2021

What is smiling therapy? ›

What is Smile Therapy? Smile therapy is a way to leverage the power of a smile to influence physical and mental health.

Are genuine smiles attractive? ›

A genuine smile is scientifically proven to make you appear more attractive and trustworthy. But a fake or inauthentic smile can have the opposite effect. Smiling at the wrong time, using certain facial microexpressions, or smiling without your eyes could make you seem cold or awkward.

Does fake smiling release dopamine? ›

Researchers have found that the simple act of smiling- even a fake smile- can bring about feelings of happiness and reduce stress. New York-based neurologist, Dr. Isha Gupta claims that the mere act of smiling can increase levels of dopamine and serotonin, our body's feel-good hormones.

Why do people smile in sad situations? ›

“It could be that that smile during that negative scenario signals to others that you're open for them to approach you, maybe for comfort, maybe to distract you from whatever sadness is going on for you,” she said. See more from the “Every Little Thing” podcast.

Why you should not always smile? ›

The researchers found that smiling frequently may actually make people feel worse if they're sort of faking it — grinning even though they feel down. When people force themselves to smile because they hope to feel better or they do it just to hide their negative emotions, this strategy may backfire.

Why do people smile when stressed? ›

Nervous laughter happens for a number of reasons. Some research suggests that your body uses this sort of mechanism to regulate emotion. Other research has found that nervous laughter may be a defense mechanism against emotions that may make us feel uncomfortable.

What does the prettiest smile hide? ›

'The prettiest smile, hides the deepest secrets. The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears and the kindest hearts have felt the most pain. '

What celebrity has the perfect smile? ›

Julia Roberts

When it comes to incredible smiles, Roberts is the OG. She's set the standard in showing off those pearly whites since her early days in the spotlight.

What does it mean when a smile doesn't reach your eyes? ›

In a polite smile4 , the smile typically doesn't reach the eyes—but that doesn't mean it's not "sincere." There are plenty of circumstances that call for polite smiles, and they typically show up when we want to convey friendliness but remain reserved, such as when you meet a new person, research says.

Which gender smiles more? ›

With respect to smiling, there is strong evidence that women smile more than men. Not only have women been found to smile more in a large meta-analysis [7] but a number of investigators have found that women exaggerate facial displays of positive emotion [8], with smiling being the most common indicator.

What does psychology say about smiling? ›

Your Body Releases Good Hormones

Your body releases three hormones that make you feel good when you smile. They include dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. These signal to your body that you're happy, and in turn, you feel happier.

What age group smiles most often? ›

The study also found that nearly 70 per cent of over-55s say they have never faked a smile, suggesting they are the happiest age group. In comparison, those aged 35 to 44 are apparently the least smiley, with 5 per cent saying they never grin.

How can you tell a genuine smile? ›

Genuine Smiles: When real smiles occur, there are two muscles that primarily flex upwards in the face as was recognized by the French physician Guillaume Duchenne. This involves the major zygomatic muscle that is heavily controlled by the person voluntarily. This is the “smile for the camera” type smile.

How do you judge a fake smile? ›

Watch for eye movements: Real smiles cause the eyes to move. It is fake if the rest of the person's face stays still while they are smiling. Watch for bottom teeth: When a person has a genuine smile, they are less likely to expose the bottom row of teeth. A fake smile is more likely to include both rows of teeth.

Can the brain distinguish between a fake smile and a real smile? ›

Now, researchers have discovered how far this attention-grabbing expression confuses our emotion recognition and makes us perceive a face as happy, even if it is not. Human beings deduce others´ state of mind from their facial expressions.

Why do some people smile a lot? ›

Although smiles are generally taken as signs of contentment, humans actually smile for many different reasons. Sometimes we do smile simply because we are happy, but we also smile for social reasons and to put people at ease, as well as to show more complex emotions, such as resignation.

What does it mean when someone is always smiling? ›

Extrovert. If someone is extrovert, they are outgoing, active, and socially confident. An extrovert socializes easily and is generally always smiling.

What are the stats about people who smile? ›

How many times does the average person smile? Many people, around 30%, will have an average smile rate of about 20 smiles per day. Less than 14% will have a smile rate of fewer than five miles per day. On the flip side, children smile at an average rate of 400 times a day.

Does smiling make you more attractive psychology? ›

Facial expressions play a leading role in human interactions because they provide signaling information of emotion and create social perceptions of an individuals' physical and personality traits. Smiling increases socially perceived attractiveness and is considered a signal of trustworthiness and intelligence.

What is it called when you smile too much? ›

Smile mask syndrome (Japanese: スマイル仮面症候群, Hepburn: sumairu kamen shōkōgun), abbreviated SMS, is a psychological disorder proposed by professor Makoto Natsume of Osaka Shoin Women's University, in which subjects develop depression and physical illness as a result of prolonged, unnatural smiling.

What does smiling do to the brain? ›

When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come into play too. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, whereas the serotonin is an antidepressant.

What is the meaning of trauma in smile? ›

Trauma in Smile

Rose is plagued with nightmares of that fateful childhood night and when she sees Laura, her patient, kill herself in a brutal way before her eyes, that trauma comes right back to haunt her. The third act of the film is a visual representation of the attempt to overcome trauma.

What is the power of a smile? ›

Smiling increases mood-enhancing hormones while decreasing stress-enhancing hormones, including cortisol, and adrenaline. It also reduces overall blood pressure. And because you typically smile when you're happy, the muscles used trigger your brain to produce more endorphins—the chemical that relieves pain and stress.

What does it mean when you can't stop smiling at someone? ›

2. You just can't stop blushing: When suddenly you just cannot contain your happiness, and are smiling for absolutely no reasons, then this is a sure sign of you falling in love with that special someone.

What is the rarest type of smile? ›

The rarest smile type is the complex smile, with only an estimated 2% of the population possessing this smile.

What happens if you don't smile a lot? ›

Smiling causes skin to overlap around the eyes (think: crow's feet). Over time, wrinkles form. "If someone chose not to smile, they may have skin that looks more youthful, despite possibly looking joyless," Dr. Robert Anolik, fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology said in an email.

What determines a beautiful smile? ›

A gap or dark space between the lips/cheeks and the teeth will appear dark and unappealing. The width of the jaws and angulation of the teeth impact the look of a smile. Teeth that are positioned in the face well, fill out this space so there is little or no gap, giving a pleasing smile.

What do guys see first in a girl? ›

Your Smile.

A lady's mouth is often the very first part of a woman a guy will see. Not only are great lips and teeth sexy, but guys will look to your mouth for social cues, as it's the most expressive feature you possess.

What does a man think when a woman smiles at him? ›

The researchers, Leif Nelson and Robyn LeBoeuf, both doctoral candidates in psychology at Princeton, said that men generally overestimate a woman's smile as a sign of sexual interest, especially men who report that their sex lives are less than fulfilling.

Does a smile mean attraction? ›

Absolutely. Social psychologists believe that deep love and passionate sexual attraction elicit entirely different types of smiles. The more two people are in love, the more they show genuine smiles in each other's company.


1. Fake Smile Psychology | Research Shows Lower Stress
(Brian Kehm)
2. Former FBI Agent Explains How to Read Facial Expressions | WIRED
3. Why Just Smiling Could Make You Feel Happier
(SciShow Psych)
4. SMILE (The Trauma Entity + Ending) EXPLAINED
5. PSYCHOLOGICAL TRICKS To Be More Charismatic & Confident TODAY! | Vanessa Van Edwards
(Lewis Howes)
6. Does Smiling Make You Happy?


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