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Smile and the world thinks you're older

Date:
May 9, 2017
Source:
University of Western Ontario
Summary:
Turn that frown upside-down? Not if you're keen on looking younger, you shouldn't. A new study shows that smiling can make you appear to be two years older than if you wear a poker face. And if you reacted to that finding with a look of surprise -- well, that expression might just have dropped years from your visage.
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This is Dr. Mel Goodale, director of the Brain and Mind Institute, Western University, Canada.
Credit: Western University, Canada

Turn that frown upside-down? Not if you're keen on looking younger, you shouldn't.

A new study shows that smiling can make you appear to be two years older than if you wear a poker face. And if you reacted to that finding with a look of surprise -- well, that expression might just have dropped years from your visage.

"We associate smiling with positive values and youth," said study co-author Melvyn Goodale, director of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University. "Think of all the skin-care and toothpaste companies that sell the same idea every day."

But this study -- in which researchers flashed images of people with smiling, neutral and surprised expressions -- showed the opposite: participants perceived the surprised faces as the youngest and smiling faces the oldest.

"The striking thing was that when we asked participants afterwards about their perceptions, they erroneously recalled that they had identified smiling faces as the youngest ones," Goodale said. "They were completely blind to the fact they had 'aged' the happy-looking faces. Their perceptions and their beliefs were polar opposites."

Goodale said the aging effect of a smile stems from people's inability to ignore the wrinkles that form around the eyes during smiling. A look of surprise, on the other hand, smooths any wrinkles.

"It may seem counter-intuitive, but the study shows that people can sincerely believe one thing and then behave in a completely different way," Goodale said.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Western Ontario. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tzvi Ganel, Melvyn A. Goodale. The effects of smiling on perceived age defy belief. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2017; DOI: 10.3758/s13423-017-1306-8

Cite This Page:

University of Western Ontario. "Smile and the world thinks you're older." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170509132835.htm>.
University of Western Ontario. (2017, May 9). Smile and the world thinks you're older. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170509132835.htm
University of Western Ontario. "Smile and the world thinks you're older." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170509132835.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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