Smiling is one of the best ways to make people instantly like you, research reveals.
However, a smile needs to be real: what psychologists call a ‘Duchenne smile’.
People are highly tuned to the Duchenne smile, which involves upturned lips and crinkly eyes.
Fake smiles are relatively easy to spot and involve only the mouth and not the eyes.
A genuine smile is a strong sign of cooperation and affiliation.
People are generally more aware of positive emotions in other people than negative.
A smile makes people feel emotionally closer to strangers.
Dr Belinda Campos, who led the research, said:
“Our findings provide new evidence of the significance of positive emotions in social settings and highlight the role that positive emotions display in the development of new social connections.
People are highly attuned to the positive emotions of others and can be more attuned to others’ positive emotions than negative emotions.”
For the study, participants watched a video of people interacting and showing both positive and negative emotions.
The results showed that positive emotions are particularly powerful in drawing strangers together.
People felt emotionally closer to strangers who showed positive emotions.
The positive emotion that was particularly attractive was awe.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Motivation and Emotion (Campos et al., 2015).