The best-looking people may not necessarily be the most attractive. There’s something about the smile (or the lack of it) that could make a difference.
It might be a complex combination of various factors, which also depends on the personal tastes and opinions of different people. However, the first distinguishing feature for me is THE SMILE!
Have you noticed that whenever you give someone a smile, it is almost automatically reciprocated in some sort of “mirroring” effect? Even if it’s a fake one, you’ll get an equally fake one back. Interestingly, Professor Ruth Campbell of University College London believes that a mirror neuron exists in the brain, which influences this action.
So there is something about the smile. Yes, you receive one when you give one. But does it really make you more attractive? The answer is Yes... and No.
Don’t get me wrong; regular smiling is important to have as part of your body language repertoire, even when you don’t feel like it, because it directly influences other people’s attitudes and their response towards you. Trust me, I’ve tried and tested this numerous times.
But here’s something very interesting! A smiling woman is perceived as attractive, while a smiling man isn’t. And vice versa…..an “unsmiling' woman is perceived as snobbish while an “unsmiling” man may be viewed as confident and mysterious.
Some studies of heterosexual men and women actually demonstrated that women find men less attractive when they smile compared to when they take on “swaggering” or “brooding” poses, and in contrast, men find women more attractive when they smile, and least attractive when they look proud, over-confident or snobbish.
Here’s something even more interesting! The results from this study I mentioned actually reflect some very traditional gender traits despite societal and cultural developments through history. According to Dr. Nancy Henley, a social psychologist at UCLA, unsmiling women are decoded as unhappy and miserable, while unsmiling men are seen as confident and dominant.
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Now here is the trait, the woman has always used her smile as a badge of appeasement. Even from birth! Some studies have shown that from 8 weeks old, baby girls smile far more than baby boys. Women just seem to have this tendency to want to please people.
So in a situation of attraction, this smile is used to appease the man...so an unsmiling male may be seen as someone disapproving and the attraction branches from the curiosity women develop to understand what would grant the man's approval. Women want to be liked!
Now, men prefer to go for the “smiling-female” because it gives the impression that they would be able to make her smile, and this is an ego booster because it is an indication of their ability to please her in many other ways.
Studies show that women laugh at men they are attracted to and men are attracted to women who laugh at them…. So, it’s kind of a balanced equation.
If you evaluate the people you are attracted to, you may notice some of these "smiling traits". If you haven’t yet, next time you engage in a social environment, take note.
Written by Oyin Egbeyemi
Oyin Egbeyemi is an engineer-turned-consultant-turned-educationist, runner and writer.