Monday, December 12, 2005


National Smiles

‘Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, contends that Americans and the English smile differently. [..]

Keltner hit upon this difference in national smiles by accident. He was studying teasing in American fraternity houses and found that low-status frat members, when they were teased, smiled using the risorius muscle – a facial muscle that pulls the lips sideways – as well as the zygomatic major, which lifts up the lips. It resulted in a sickly smile that said, in effect, I understand you must paddle me, brother, but not too hard, please. Several years later, Keltner went to England on sabbatical and noticed that the English had a peculiar deferential smile that reminded him of those he had seen among the junior American frat members. Like the frat brothers’, the English smile telegraphed an acknowledgment of hierarchy rather than just expressing pleasure.’

Or, the English version of the same article: The smile that says where youre from

`While we British smile by pulling our lips back and upwards and exposing our lower teeth, Americans are more likely simply to part their lips and stretch the corners of their mouths.

So distinct is the difference that the scientist behind the research was able last week to pick out Britons from Americans from close-cropped pictures of their smiles alone, with an accuracy of more than 90%.’

The Americans think the English have a sickly smile, whilst the English thing their smile is more sincere and harder to fake. Kinda amusing. 🙂

via BoingBoing.

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