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What's in a smile?


From cheesy grin to sardonic smirk, there's a psychology behind each and every smile. As Stylist explores the evolution of laughter this week, we look at what your grin says about you. Are you a natural leader with a crooked smile or a right-sided smiler with a potential lack of sincerity? Find out more, below...

Picture credit: Rex Features

Smile harder, live longer

Researchers in the US found that those with big grins in their yearbook photos (like Madonna, pictured) outlived those with partial smiles or those who didn’t smile.

The Mona Lisa

If you have a tight-lipped smile that doesn’t expose your teeth, people will assume you’re hiding something.

Crooked man

Those with crooked smiles have been proven to be better leaders – as they have had to develop more positive social skills to compensate for this perceived shortcoming.

The origins of symmetry

People with symmetrical smiles are considered to have a better standard of life. Research shows that the public tends to elect politicians with symmetrical faces, like Barack Obama, because they are perceived to be more trustworthy and commanding.

Boys and girls

A US study revealed women are more attracted to unsmiling men, whereas men are most drawn to women with smiley expressions.

Side to side

Those with a smile which pulls to the left have been found to be better at connecting with others. Whereas if the mouth pulls to the right it shows a lack of sincerity.

Put a price on it

Researchers at Bangor University found genuine smiles - as opposed to fake or "polite" ones - are powerful forms of social currency, that can do anything from luring shoppers into buying products to forming lucrative relationships at work.

Anthropology of smiles

People read happiness differently, according to their culture. In her book Lip Service, Yale psychology professor Marianne LaFrance outlines how in the US, the determination of happiness and smiling is focused on the mouth - whereas people in Japan, people "search for feeling in the eyes."

The eyes have it

When someone smiles for real it triggers a facial muscle called the orbicularis oculi, causing the skin around the eyes to involuntarily crinkle. The majority of people can't deliberately move that muscle, which is why you can tell whether someone's smile is genuine from their eyes.

Men are from Mars...

UK research has indicated that a massive 93% of women smile to appear friendly, while 50% of men use smiling as a tool to attract the opposite sex. Will Smith, George Clooney and Brad Pitt are among the top-rated smiles for famous men, in case you're asking...



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