Duchenne smile

Duchenne was interested in the mechanics of facial expressions, including how the muscles of the face contract to produce a smile.

The Duchenne‘ smile is long and intense, though it involves the contraction of just two muscles. First the zygomatic major, which resides in the cheek, tugs at the corners of the mouth, then the orbicularis oculi, which surrounds the eye, pulls up the cheeks, leading to the characteristic ‘twinkling eyes’.

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Smile ≠  happy

Those who smile often are thought of as more likeable, competent, approachable, friendly and attractive.

Of 19 different types of smile, only six occur when we’re having a good time. The rest happen when we’re in pain, embarrassed, uncomfortable, horrified or even miserable. A smile may mean contempt, anger or incredulity, that we’re lying or that we’ve lost.

Most people – around 71% - can voluntarily contract the inner portion of the orbicularis oculi. 

Judged by facial expressions alone, people are judged as most truthful when they are lying. As the American humourist Kin Hubbard once said: “If you haven’t seen your wife smile at a traffic cop, you haven’t seen her smile her prettiest.”

The dampened smile is an attempt to control an automatic, happy one and exists because some muscles, such as the ones controlling the mouth, are easier to suppress than others. “The cheeks will be raised but we pull the corners of the mouth downwards or press the lips together."

Not all cultures invite a broad smile.  In Japan, where etiquette dictates that emotions are stifled in public, there’s a greater emphasis on smiling with the eyes. 

The ‘qualifier smile’ aims to take the edge off bad news. 

It begins abruptly, raising the lower lip slightly, and is occasionally accompanied by a slightly downwards and sideways tilt of the head.

Fear smile
“When bonobo chimpanzees are afraid they’ll expose their teeth and draw their lips back so that their gums are exposed,” says Zanna Clay, a primatologist at the University of Birmingham.

In babies, a broad grin can either mean they’re happy or distressed and studies have shown that men tend to smile more around those considered to be higher status.

The ‘miserable smile’ is a stoical grin-and-bear-it expression – a slight, asymmetric smile with an expression of deep sadness pasted over the top.

Since Landis’ classic study, psychologists have found this tell-tale smirk on the faces those watching gory films – they were filmed by a hidden camera – and among patients suffering from depression. It's a socially acceptable way of showing that you’re sad or in pain.

Translating roughly as ‘malicious joy’, schadenfreude is the thrill of discovering another’s misfortune.

“If individuals are alone and feel unobserved, they usually express feelings of schadenfreude by so-called ‘Duchenne smiles’ and ‘Duchenne laughs’,” says Jennifer Hofmann, a psychologist at the University of Zurich.

The ‘embarrassed smile’ is identical to the dampened smile, though the two are easily distinguished – if not by the flushed cheeks, then the uncomfortable situation which usually precedes it. Another tell-tale sign is moving the head downwards and slightly to the left.

The ‘contempt smile’ indicates a mixture of disgust and resentment and is disconcertingly similar to a smile of true delight, except for the corners of the lips which appear tightened.

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RELATED IDEAS

What a smile can accomplish
  • Smiling can make you look younger and thinner.
  • Smiling elevates your mood and creates a sense of well-being.
  • One smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.”
  • Even a forced smile can lead to a mood boost.
  • Smiling makes you seem courteous, likable, and competent.
  • Smiling is contagious. YOU can light up a room if you enter smiling.

The Superpowers of Your Smile

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The old Victorian picture style

If you have a look at Victorian pictures dating from the 19th century, you will soon enough realize that back then people did not really smile. The reason for this involves two elements:

  • firstly, the method to take pictures implied keeping the same happy face for hours to come, making it difficult for individuals to actually do it.
  • secondly, as dental hygiene was not well developed, many preferred hiding their teeth and, therefore, posing with serious faces.

Smiling Victorians: why it's a myth that our ancestors didn't smile for pictures

historyextra.com

Eye signals
  • Eye gaze: Directly eye contact indicates interest and paying attention. Prolonged eye contact can feel threatening.
  • Blinking:  People often blink more rapidly when they are feeling distressed or uncomfortable. 
  • Pupil size: Highly dilated eyes, for example, can indicate that a person is interested or even aroused. 

How to Read Body Language and Facial Expressions

verywellmind.com

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