Posted by: Prospector PJ12 SEP 2012
Ever wondered why someone smiles at you? Do they think you are witty or they simply being polite? Your confusion need last no longer because researchers have analysed reactions to smiles and determined how various types of smile are perceived.
They classified smiles into amused, embarrassed/nervous or simply polite, and found that their perceived meaning was related to specific variations in both dynamic and morphological characteristics. Dynamic characteristics measured included duration, onset and offset velocity, asymmetry of velocity and head movements. Morphological characteristics included activation of the orbicularis oculi muscles (which raise the cheeks in a facial movement known as the Duchenne marker), smile controls, mouth opening, amplitude and asymmetry of amplitude.
The study, published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behaviour, concluded that amused smiles were more likely to include the Duchenne marker and an open mouth, have larger amplitude and more abrupt onset and offset. Embarrassed or nervous smiles were more likely to include downward head movement, while those perceived as polite were more likely to have a closed mouth and smaller amplitude.
Smiling females can be both attractive and enigmatic, as Leonardo Da Vinci was no doubt fully aware when he painted the Mona Lisa.
But are they trustworthy? According to a study in Perceptual and Motor Skills, women’s perceived trustworthiness increased with their smile intensity. And their attractiveness also made them appear more trustworthy, independently of smiling intensity.