Smiles: More Than Just a Facial Expression

What do kids do about 300-400 times a day, women 62, and men just eight?  No, it's not burp or something else disgusting.  It's smile.

And according to author Marianne LaFrance, how someone smiles can be a key predictor of what kind of person they are.

Amanda Cuda of The Advocate (Stamford, CT) interviewed LaFrance, author of "Why Smile," who said that smiles can be fake or genuine, and here's how you can tell.  "A genuine smile doesn't just use the mouth. It uses the mouth and the muscles around eye. But a whole host of other cues are involved as well," LaFrance told Cuda. "Fake smiles tend to snap on the face and go off the face as quickly as they got there. When someone smiles quickly, you have an intuitive sense that something is not right there."

LaFrance added that when people" have all teeth all the time,' that suggests it's not a genuine smile.

So why should we care?  LaFrance told Cuda that smiles are important in business, school, life, everywhere.  They can alleviate tension, create a positive first impression, and get things off on the right foot in a meeting, where connection, among competing agendas, is vital.

LaFrance calls smiling "an enormously rich kernel" when getting to know someone.   Even psychopaths have a "veneer of smiling," she says.  Psychology Today puts it another way.  Psycopaths smiles don't match what they're saying.  "I'd like to kill you and eat you for dinner," would probably be accompanied by a high-wattage curve up of the lips.

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