What Our Smile Says About Us

A smile says a lot about us. We can use it to convey our emotions, cheer someone up, or even use it to hide how we’re feeling. But do you know the science behind it?

Your gender could impact how frequently you smile

Research shows that women smile more, and to a greater extent, than men. One reason for this is that women could be more in tune to relationships than men are. Alternatively, it could just be that women are under more pressure to smile more often!

Your smile affects what people think of you

The type of smile you portray, whether it’s intended or not, determines how people will judge your attitude. For example, the “power grin” is a type of smile that works with a raised chin to look down on others.

Dr. Niedenthal says there’s a science to the way people react to your smile. She’s outlined three ways people subconsciously gauge a smile: analysing the geometry of the smile compared to the average, considering the context of the situation, and mimicking the smile.

Therefore, the way people then interpret your smile can change what they think of you!

Social situations can dictate when you smile

Humans are “socialised to smile” – while some of these social smiles may be ‘fake’, they’re validated in a social sense (such as when we greet others). Basically, we are programmed for social smiling.

You can identify someone’s mood and change your own mood by mimicking smiles

As discussed, you might be able to gauge a person’s emotions by mimicking their smile, and feeling those emotions as a result. However, this subconscious action can also make you feel other emotions. For example, when you mimic a false smile, you won’t activate orbitofrontal activity (the part of the brain involved in the cognitive processing of decision-making) – you then interpret that something is wrong, therefore identifying the false smile.

Image credit: whologwhy


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