Weird eh? If you’re like me, we all thought the opposite.
According to researchers, people can perceive you to be up to two years older when they see you smile.
“We associate smiling with positive values and youth,” said study co-author Melvyn Goodale, director of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University. “Think of all the skin-care and toothpaste companies that sell the same idea every day.”
But this study — in which researchers flashed images of people with smiling, neutral and surprised expressions — showed the opposite: participants perceived the surprised faces as the youngest and smiling faces the oldest.
“The striking thing was that when we asked participants afterwards about their perceptions, they erroneously recalled that they had identified smiling faces as the youngest ones,” Goodale said. “They were completely blind to the fact they had ‘aged’ the happy-looking faces. Their perceptions and their beliefs were polar opposites.”
Goodale said the aging effect of a smile stems from people’s inability to ignore the wrinkles that form around the eyes during smiling. A look of surprise, on the other hand, smooths any wrinkles.
“It may seem counter-intuitive, but the study shows that people can sincerely believe one thing and then behave in a completely different way,” Goodale said.
Source: Debora Van Brenk – University of Western Ontario
Original Research: Abstract for “The effects of smiling on perceived age defy belief” by Tzvi Ganel and Melvyn A. Goodale in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Published online May 8 2017 doi:10.3758/s13423-017-1306-8