If you’re a world traveler, you may have recognized already that flashing a smile at a stranger in New York City earns an entirely different reaction than that same smile delivered in Moscow. In fact, smiling culture is so varied from country to country that the podcast Invisibilia shaped an entire episode around the story of the smile as a stumbling block to establishing McDonald’s fast food restaurants — a business to whom the smile is so endemic that it’s actually a part of their branding — in Russia.
So why do we have such different ideas about smiles from place to place? And what, if anything, does your smile say about where you make your home?
Why Do Some Countries Smile More?
Studies have long tried to pinpoint the key to why some countries’ denizens are so much quicker to smile. A few years ago, a study determined that citizens of countries with more diverse populations as a result of immigration were more likely to be emotionally expressive. Researchers hypothesized that the presence of language barriers between citizens could put more weight on nonverbal communication, such as the smile.
This is why in places with low diversity, like Russia or Hong Kong, a smile is intimate; Russians may use a smile to communicate a willingness to have a close friendship. But in places with high diversity, like Australia or the United States, a smile is casual; Australians may smile to create a casual social bond with a stranger.
An earlier study performed in 2004 had more information to bring to the table: Researchers found that countries with unpredictable or unreliable social systems were more likely to have stern-faced citizens, perhaps due to the smile being a signifier of confidence and surety.
Australians Smile Often
So what do Australians’ smiles say about us? One study found that Australia placed high on the smile scale, joining the United States and Zimbabwe on the list of most expressive countries. Considering that Australia has a long history of immigration, with 75% of inhabitants identifying with non-Australian ancestry, this matches up nicely with hypotheses about immigration and body language.
Of course, your nationality isn’t the only thing that impacts the frequency of your smile. If you’re embarrassed about your smile or not confident in its appearance, that can prevent you from flashing those pearly whites at people on the street or even at your own friends, regardless of what social message you’re trying to send.
Don’t worry: Cosmetic dentistry can give you a smile you’ll be proud to show off under any circumstance. Correct discoloration with professional whitening treatments, straighten crooked teeth with easy and affordable orthodontics, or even replace the teeth that are marring your smile with porcelain veneers. Even dentures can be comfortable and natural thanks to modern denture technology.
If you want to achieve a smile you can be proud of, you need an experienced cosmetic dentist right here in Baulkham Hills. Call (02) 9686 7375 or contact us online to make an appointment.