« Modules of my Mind | Gene Expression Front Page | Gene + environment interactions.... »
February 22, 2005


A new study by Dacher Keltner has shown that Americans and Brits smile differently. From an article in Sunday's Times Online >>

While we British smile by pulling our lips back and upwards and exposing our lower teeth, Americans are more likely simply to part their lips and stretch the corners of their mouths.

So distinct is the difference that the scientist behind the research was able last week to pick out Britons from Americans from close-cropped pictures of their smiles alone, with an accuracy of more than 90%....

[Keltner] found the British were also more likely to raise their cheeks when they smile, showing the crow’s feet at the corners of the eyes. This produces a more sincere, hard-to-fake smile.

Other highlights from the article include >>

The genuineness of a good British smile is all in the eyes — Keltner has found that only 5% of people can fake a smile that uses this muscle.

Infants use the Pan-Am smile [named after the defunct airline’s gesture of welcome] when unknown adults enter a room as a gesture of appeasement and, Keltner says, so does the actress Julia Roberts.

“She has a wonderful smile, but it does not often reach her eyes in public. By contrast, Angelina Jolie not only smiles broadly, and twinkles, but also tilts her head a little, which pushes the pleasurable body language into a higher gear. That is a smile which is impossible to resist.”

Other research has shown that women smile more than men in public, but stop smiling in private.

The power behind the smile may also be more potent than anybody has previously realised: Keltner recently released a study of photographs of women in college yearbooks dating back to the 1960s....

Researchers then tracked the women down and found that those who had smiled most happily at college overwhelmingly tended to have had the happiest lives since they had graduated. “It’s a virtuous circle,” Keltner concluded. “Happy smiley people cheer others up around them, which in turn makes them more stable and less prone to depression or divorce than those who faked it in their yearbooks.”


Update from Scottm There was some disagreement that Jolie's smile is impossible to resist. To this I offer this proof,

Posted by theresa at 11:23 AM