Sunday, October 23, 2011

Being Alpha: The Slow Knowing Smile

A smile is nature's best antidote for discouragement.
It brings rest to the weary,
Sunshine to those who are frowning,
And hope to those who are hopeless and defeated.
A smile is so valuable that it can't be bought,
Begged, borrowed, or taken away against your will.
You have to be willing to give a smile away
Before it can do anyone else any good.
So if someone is too tired or grumpy to flash you a smile,
Let him have one of yours anyway.
Nobody needs a smile as much
As the person who has none to give.
-Dale Carnegie

While most everyone knows that a smile attracts more friends than a scowl, few people know how to smile effectively. If you are going to make the effort to smile at someone, why not do it in a way that will have the most impact. In this blog post, JohnQuincy would like to share with you a smile that recent research indicates has the best chance of being received as trustworthy, attractive and, best of all, slightly flirtatious.

Being Alpha

Teaching the little tricks that lead one towards a happier and more fulfilling life. This is the first installment in the series.

Why Humans Smile

Why do we smile? Most people believe that smiling conveys happiness but studies of primates indicate that it initially had a much different origin. It was meant to convey submission and was used as a plea for leniency for transgressions by primates lower in the group hierarchy towards one higher up in the chain. Here is a fascinating piece on this in the book, I is for Influence:

I is for Influence: The New Science of Persuasion By Rob Yeung
The Duchenne Smile

The Duchenne Smile can be contrasted with the Botox Smile. People view the Duchenne Smile as sincere and they view the Botox Smile as insincere. While we all know the difference when we see it few can probably accurately define what the major difference is between the two. The secret is in the eyes. People can fake a botox smile by using their zygomatic major muscles to raise the corners of their mouths but have a hard time faking a Duchenne Smile which also involves use of the orbicularis oculi (eye) muscles to contract the corners of the eye and raise ones cheek bones.

Here is a humorous BBC program that describes history behind the Duchenne Smile:

Below is a good video that demonstrates the differences between the Duchenne and Botox Smiles:

Supercharging Your Smile

This review of recent studies in the 2007 Journal of Non Verbal Behaviour delves into what type of smile is most effective in boosting your attractiveness to others:

Temporal Aspects of Facial Displays in Person by Eva Krumhuber Æ Antony S. R. Manstead Æ in the 2007 Journal of Non Verbal Behaviour

Surprisingly research indicates two simple tips that can take a Duchenne Smile and supercharge it:

Tip 1: The Long Slow Smile

The study showed that a long onset smile was perceived to be substantially more authentic and attractive than a quick onset smile. The difference between a quick and slow onset was defined as only 0.4 of a second with the quick onset smile flash starting in 0.1 seconds and the slow onset starting 0.5 seconds. It also helped if one had a less pronounced peak smiling expression and dropped the expression more slowly.

Tip 2: Tilt Your Head Toward the Receiver

The study also showed a smiles effectiveness was substantially boosted when one tilted their head towards the receiver of the smile while gazing at them.

An excellent summary of these findings can be found here:

PsyBlog - A Slow Smile Attracts

Appendix - Smiling in Song

Charlie Chaplin - Smile

Music by Charlie Chaplin for 1936 soundtrack to the film, Modern Times
Lyrics written  added by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons in 1954

Lisa Ekdahl - Give Me That Slow Knowing Smile

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