The Psychology of Smiling

Fixing smiles is my raison d’être, so I’m always happy when I stumble across new research that shows the importance of smiles in everyday life.

When you meet someone, the first thing you notice is his or her face. The expression they wear is a nonverbal cue that communicates whether they are approachable, good natured, and trustworthy. We all know the value of a good first impression!

We rely on our faces to project the full range of human emotions. If a person’s ability to smile is compromised through an injury it can affect relationships with other people.

Try this experiment: the next time a stranger greets you with a smile, don’t return it. The effect will be pretty alienating. (Warning: Don’t try this on a blind date or in a business meeting)

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your smile:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. People tend to smile less when they think no one is watching.
  • If it doesn’t feel natural don’t force it: when a smile is genuine it causes muscles around the eyes to move involuntarily, it’s hard to fake and often people can tell the difference.
  • Know that your smile is your calling card: When you smile a lot people tend to notice.
  • And of course, take care of your smile: You only get one set of adult teeth, so it’s important you care for your teeth, and get regular checkups.

Think you can tell the difference between a real smile, and a fake one? Try the test here.

What do you think? When you smile more do you find you have an easier time in social situations? Let me know in the comments or at @FreemanOrtho.