If you think people have a tendency to be angry or sour when they look at you, the problem might not be their expression, it might be yours. Maybe if you would smile more, they would look happier, too. Or, rather, you’d think they look happier.
That’s according to a new study by researchers at the University of Essex and the University of Madrid, showing that smiling changes the way our brain processes other people’s expressions.
When You Smile, The World Smiles at You
To determine whether smiling impacted our perception of other people’s expressions, researchers used EEG to measure the brain patterns of 25 participants looking at pictures of faces showing either neutral or positive expressions. The participants were asked to smile, purse their lips, or maintain a neutral expression while looking at the pictures.
Researchers found that when smiling, people processed neutral and positive expressions in the same way. When participants had a neutral expression or pursed lips, though, the positive and neutral expressions were processed differently. This showed that smiling not only changes our interpretation of our own emotions, but can affect the way we judge the expressions of others. We are more likely to assume others are smiling at us, if we’re already smiling.
When you add this to the fact that smiles are contagious (especially drunk smiles), you can see that smiling really does lead to a world where you feel you’re surrounded by a lot more happy people.
Why Aren’t You Smiling?
Because of all the benefits a smile confers in your own emotional state and that of those around you, there’s really nothing better than a smile for making your day better. But for many people, it’s not as easy as that. Many of us don’t want to smile because we’re self-conscious about the appearance of our teeth.
If you’re ashamed to show your smile, cosmetic dentistry has a solution for you. Whether you are dealing with discolored teeth, crooked teeth, or even a missing tooth, teeth whitening, braces, and dental implants can help.