One of the first distinguishing features that may draw you to a person is their SMILE. Does this correlate with attractiveness?
Even if it’s a fake smile, you will probably receive an equally fake one back. Interestingly, Professor Ruth Campbell, a retired experimental psychologist and neuropsychologist 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… No…. Maybe?
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 responses to you.
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. From the book, The Definitive Book of Body Language by Alan and Barbara Pease, A Canadian study of 1,084 heterosexual men and women showed 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 less attractive when they look proud, over-confident or snobbish.
Here’s something even more interesting! The results from this Canadian study actually reflect some traditional gender traits despite societal and cultural developments through history. According to Dr. Nancy Henley, a social psychologist of University of California Los Angeles, unsmiling women are decoded as unhappy and miserable, while unsmiling men are seen as confident and dominant.
Now, the woman has always used her smile as a badge of appeasement. Even from birth! Some studies have shown that from as young as 8 weeks old, baby girls smile far more than baby boys. Women somehow 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 man may be seen as someone disapproving and the attraction branches from the curiosity the woman develops to understand what would grant the man's approval. I guess women just want to be liked!
Now on the contrary, men prefer to go for the “smiling-woman” 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 his ability to please her in other ways as well.
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 both parties are on the same page). If you evaluate the people you are attracted to, you may notice some of these "smiling traits". Otherwise, next time you engage in a social environment, take note of this... well unless the person is just not that into you (…and that is a story for another article)
Written by Oyin Egbeyemi
Oyin Egbeyemi is an engineer-turned-consultant-turned-educationist, runner and writer.