First impressions are everything. Be it first dates, job interviews, or the first time you meet your partner’s parents, those first few daunting seconds are everything. If you’re stressing about your next first impression, fear not. There’s one ridiculously easy and scientifically-proven thing you can do to impress just about everyone: Crack a big ol’ smile.
Indeed, a little upturn of the lip can seriously up your chances of winning over a single person or an entire crowd. Here are just a few ways scientists say smiling can get you to win friends and influence people.
The happy facial movement alone makes you more approachable
In a study conducted at the University of Wyoming, researchers asked nearly 100 undergraduate women to examine photos of another woman in four distinct poses. In one photo, the woman is smiling with her arms uncrossed. In another, she’s smiling with her arms crossed. In the third, she’s not smiling with her hands by her side, and in the fourth, she’s both not smiling and has her arms crossed.
Lo and behold, the results showed that the participant’s liked both pictures of the woman smiling, whether her arms were crossed or not.
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Even the virtual world loves a smile
It turns out that avatars love an inviting grin too. Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Duisburg-Essen rendered an online avatar to include a slightly enhanced version of its human doppelganger's smile. The team found that participants who communicated with one another via avatars that had the enhanced smiles used “more positive words to describe their interaction experience compared to those who communicated via avatars that displayed smiling behavior reflecting the participants’ actual smiles.”
And it wasn’t just the people they were speaking with that felt good about the conversation. The users with the smile-enhanced avatars also reported feeling more positive affects after their online conversation and experienced “stronger social presence compared to the ‘normal smile’ condition.”
Smiling can make you appear younger and thinner
For a 2015 study published in Frontiers in Psychology, college-aged participants were asked to rank the emotional expressions on men’s faces. In the results, the students ranked men who were smiling as looking younger, while men depicting sad or neutral expressions were rated as older in appearance.