What can I predict about your future just by looking at your smile?


A few years ago, Dacher Keltner and LeeAnne Harker, from the University of California at Berkeley, looked at the photographs of the women that had been taken for the college yearbook when they were in their early twenties. Nearly all the women were smiling. However, when the researchers carefully examined the images, they noticed that about half of the photographs showed a Pan Am smile and half a genuine Duchenne smile. They then went back to the information that had been provided by the women throughout their lives, and they discovered something remarkable. Compared to the women with the Pan Am smiles, those displaying the Duchenne smiles were significantly more likely to be married, to stay married, to be happier, and to enjoy better health throughout their lives.

This is from Richard Wiseman’s very interesting book Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things. If you liked Freakonomics, you’ll enjoy it.

FYI: A “Duchenne smile” is a genuine smile. A “Pan Am” smile is forced/faked smile.

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