Why do we smile?

Focus-Science and Technology - - LIFE IS FOR LEARNING ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE DUBLIN -

CERES WOOL­LEY MAISCH, LONDON

Smil­ing is a so­cial sig­nal which, usu­ally, com­mu­ni­cates to oth­ers our pos­i­tive emo­tion and in­tent. When we feel good or we’re pleased to see some­one, this emo­tion plays out in our fa­cial ex­pres­sion. This sounds very jolly, but in some con­texts smiles can also con­vey fear or sub­mis­sive­ness. Researchers who stud­ied the fa­cial ex­pres­sions of mar­tial arts fight­ers fac­ing off be­fore a clash found that those who smiled were more likely to go on to lose: the the­ory is that in this case their smile be­trayed their fear or in­fe­ri­or­ity. A re­lated im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion is be­tween gen­uine, in­vol­un­tary smiles, which are marked by greater creas­ing around the eyes, and de­lib­er­ate or feigned smiles, which are de­ployed strate­gi­cally to con­vey hap­pi­ness, plea­sure or def­er­ence, and lack the tell­tale eye wrin­kling.

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