Smiling and Attractiveness…What’s the link?

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The best-looking people are not necessarily the most attractive. So one would wonder: What’s the best way to measure attractiveness? I guess it is a complex combination of various factors, which includes personal taste, but the first distinguishing feature to me is THE SMILE!

Have you noticed that when you smile at someone, the action is automatically reciprocated in some sort of “mirror” effect? Sometimes, even when it is a fake one given, an equally fake one is returned. A Professor of Communication, Ruth Campbell from University College London believes that a mirror neuron in the brain influences this action. But does the smile really influence our appeal towards one another? Is smiling proportional to attractiveness? The answer is YES… and NO.

Regular smiling is important to have as part of our body language repertoire, because it directly influences the attitudes and response we receive from the people around us. For example, when I go to the club on a Friday night, I leave with more requests for my phone number when I “smile” than I do when I place a pout on my face.

Here is something interesting: A smiling woman is perceived as attractive, while a smiling man may not necessarily be. Dr. Nancy Henley, a social psychologist at UCLA, believes that unsmiling women are decoded as unhappy and miserable, while unsmiling men are seen as confident and dominant. Additionally, a Canadian study of heterosexual men and women demonstrated that women find men less attractive when they smile than when they take on “brooding” poses. In complete contrast, men find women more attractive when they smile, and less attractive when they look proud. That’s possibly why in the Nigerian social scene; you may see that the prettiest women may not necessarily be the most highly sought after. With so many to select from, men approach those whom they feel are least likely to reject them.

The results from this Canadian study actually show some conventional gender traits despite societal and cultural developments, which will now bring you to understand why women are attracted to “bad boys” and men prefer “submissive” women:

The woman has always used her smile as a badge of appeasement, right from birth! Some studies show that from 8-weeks old, baby girls smile far more than boys. Thus in a situation of attraction, this smile is used to appease the man… Hence, an unsmiling man may be viewed as someone disapproving. Then women develop a curiosity to understand what would grant this man’s approval, and this leads to their attraction towards him. On the contrary, men prefer the “smiling-woman” because it gives the impression that they could potentially make her smile too; an ego booster because it indicates their ability to please her in other ways.

Furthermore studies show that women laugh at men they are attracted to and men are attracted to women who laugh at them…. So, it’s like an equation that men and women subconsciously solve while interacting with each other. If the equation balances, then it is an indication of their mutual attraction.

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