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  • Writer's pictureSmridhi Malhotra

How Our Smile Defines Us: Multifunctional Nature of a Smile

You might have heard, “Smile, it’s free therapy!”


Yes, a smile offers many benefits. It is a mood booster that uplifts our spirit naturally. When we smile, our body releases cortisol and dopamine, providing numerous psychological and physical health benefits. A recent study suggested that holding a smile during periods of stress helps your heart feel better to help ease the stress.


Have you noticed that individuals who smile often are found to be more courteous, appealing, and likable? This is because a smile not only provides health benefits but shapes our personality too. 


 Smiles are an intrinsic part of communication. A genuine or Duchenne smile (in which our muscles around the mouth and expressions of our eyes shape the smile) induces positivity and provides a comfort zone to people around us.


A smile acts as a versatile tool for humans to interact socially. It can easily convey solacement, warmth, politeness, confidence, and other positive feelings. It also conceals negative feelings (e.g., nervousness before an interview, embarrassment, arrogance) and bad intentions.

Power of smile


Smiling is contagious! So, indeed there is immense power in one’s smile.


The word power is given to something that has the potential to influence things or bring a change. Correspondingly, a smile can convey various messages like a message of acceptance, ‘you are welcome’, or ‘all is well’ and can influence the process of communication up to a greater extent.


Moreover, our smile can also enhance our lives professionally and personally. Trust is a benchmark or necessity of every relationship, be it professional or personal. A smile can determine our trustworthiness!

Are you trustworthy? Your smile will help to determine!


A study revealed the relationship between trust and a smile.

To determine how a smile can affect trust levels, the experimenters took the help of an ‘economic investment game’ in which participants were given a sum of money and asked to decide an amount that they would give to another person (the other individuals were confederates for the experiment). 


The participants were told that once the money is received by another individual, the amount will get tripled and that person would have an option to either divide the money between him and the sender or to keep them all to himself. The money that would be received back by the participants will be the measure of trust.


The participants and other persons were unknown to each other and they didn’t have any contact during the research. Except, they received a note in which a small description of the person was written, telling them whether they have a borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, or no pathology along with a short video of the person showing a neutral or a genuine smile.


Let’s look at the results! A significant connection was found between the trust and smiles of individuals.


Individuals reported as having a borderline personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder received less money as compared to those having no personality pathology.


Also, the participants who received the video of genuine smiles transferred more money to those described as having a borderline personality or no personality pathology. On the other hand, genuine smiles decreased the number of individuals reported as antisocial.


How does a Duchenne Smile increase trustworthiness?


Since Duchenne smile is unconscious and seems involuntary, it appears that the individual has made an effort which is meant by him. Consequently, a smile that is perceived as genuine displays honest signals and willingness for cooperation.

But don’t trust every grin!


In situations of negotiations, people use a smile as a tool for manipulation. Everyone knows that a smile can save them from any uncomfortable feeling. 


When we want to make a good impression or want to conceal any negative feelings, the best thing is to simply smile. So, a nice smile is not always good, it may even be deceptive and fake.

How can you tell a fake smile and why do people fake a smile?


Most of us can differentiate easily between a fake and a genuine smile. Fake smiles don’t use orbicularis oculi muscles and instead use one muscle in each cheek just to make the right shape through lips without using eye muscles. 


However, real and genuine smiles are prompted naturally in the presence of positive feelings and don’t require any extra effort, unlike a fake smile. Thus, a fake smile creates a detachment between what we are feeling and what we are expressing overtly.


A smile is a socially desirable way to impress everyone. It gives signals such as “Can you do this for me?”, “Please like me.” That is why we smile at people even if we don’t like them, smile when we go to place an order, or laugh at jokes even if we don’t find them funny.


We fake smiles to stay away from any kind of disagreement, to fit in any type of situation, and to be seen as polite humans. It is important to understand that fake smiles are not healthy. As they are not the true symbol of positivity, they are just an imitation of your happier version. Hence, it is important to replace that with a genuine smile.

What does your smile say about your personality?


Your smile can become more than a simple gesture. Rather, your smile can act as a symbol of love and can radiate your personality. Gradually, this will become your habit and you will find yourself naturally smiling, which will give you a sense of happiness.


 Let’s see how a smile shapes personality.



When we flash a Duchenne smile, we are perceived as more friendly, trustworthy, loyal, and agreeable. It allows us to convey the message that we are ready to cooperate and are worthy of your time and attention.



In the professional world, major importance is given to personality and smile. Some of them even conduct a smile analysis test or smile personality test.

A true smile depicts your confidence level and can communicate cooperativeness to recruiters. A genuine smile can also make people willing to work with you in the long run.


Coping ability

Each one of us faces difficult situations in our life. At that time, we say to ourselves - “this too shall pass” or “keep smiling.”


People who can smile in difficult events are seen as flexible, have a hardiness personality, and are seen as having supporting personalities. Moreover, some people have a naturally attractive smile. They have a higher probability of having a good marriage and professional life.

Types of smiles

How to pass a flirtatious smile? What is the most attractive smile?


We often come across such types of questions; different people experience different types of smiles. Let’s look up some common types of smile shapes, but remember some cultural and psychological variations can accompany them.


Reward smile

Mostly, a smile arises when we feel positive and happy naturally. Researchers named them as ‘reward’ smiles. When we pass a reward smile, our mouth and cheek muscles get activated along with our eye muscles to create a full-blown reward smile.


For example- When you get a surprise from your friends, your body will release dopamine. You will thus pass a reward smile to your friends.


Affiliative smile

We also smile to reassure others, to confirm our connections with others, and to spread positivity.

When we smile gently by pulling our lips upward, without showing teeth, we pass an affiliative smile. These smiles are indicators of politeness and trustworthiness.


For example - A smile that we pass to our co-workers while passing a file.


Lying Smile

Sometimes even lie detectors don’t succeed in spotting lie smiles. However, some researchers have differentiated these types of smiles from others.


The Duchenne smile is most frequently associated with lying. It is a high-intensity imitation of a genuine smile involving the movement of both cheek and eye muscles.

Remember, in our childhood, how we used to smile after doing a mischievous thing?


Flirtatious smile


Many of us try to smile flirtatiously. Here are some tips to help you with it.


Join your lips, lift one eyebrow upwardly and smile, or smile while slightly facing your head downwardly, or try to smile with a wink.


Smiling makes you look more attractive than usual, so keep smiling!


Embarrassed smile


Have you noticed that whenever we feel embarrassed, we move our heads frequently?

We can identify an embarrassed smile by a downward-facing head. Do people show their teeth when they smile in embarrassment?


For example, when someone slips while entering into a social gathering.


Answering the question, what is the most attractive smile? It is the one with both “sideways lifting upwards.” It is our full-blown cheerful smile when we are laughing with our hearts. This type of smile is said to be the most attractive. It may elicit masculine feelings for men, and for women, it is the symbol of warmth.


Still worried about what your smile says about your personality?


Take a “smile analysis test” or “smile personality test” online. You will be clear about how your smile shapes your personality.


How do you make a sad person smile?


Smiling figures- Remojadas and laughing Buddhas!


If you see someone without a smile, give them yours!


We are leading a stressful life, and our mind always stays preoccupied with many things. We merely get some time free from our daily hassles.


Wouldn’t we feel great if we come across a smiling face after coming home that doesn’t want anything in return and is only present to give us good vibes?


The laughing Buddha and Remojadas are some figures that are present in our home just to make us smile. Remember? “Smiling is contagious!” With a carefree and adorable face, these figures can sometimes boost our mood immediately.


Try to smile at those around you, and pass a smile to people with whom you come into daily contact, your colleagues, teachers, friends, relatives, helpers, or a stranger in a cafe. It’s pretty amazing how we can uplift one’s mood by lending a smile. Some people even put up smile quotes on their phone’s wallpaper to keep boosting themselves.


According to the facial feedback hypothesis, our facial muscles communicate our feelings with others and ourselves. Our expressions have a direct influence on our mood.


In other words, even when we do not feel like smiling, merely lifting our lips or making a smiling facial expression can directly influence our experience of affect.

So, Keep smiling!

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