ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why Smiling Helps

Updated on March 8, 2011

I love a good smile.  Recently I at the airport, the desk associate looked at the old photo on my PAN card (identification check) and smiled.  I had to smile back, it really isn't a very nice photo but it better than the one on my driving license.  The smile was pleasant and the simple (sometimes irritating) task of handing over your ID proof at every step was made pleasant.

What Is A Smile

A smile is a facial expression formed by flexing the muscles near both ends of the mouth.

source | Freitas-Magalhães, A., & Castro, E. (2009). The Neuropsychophysiological Construction of the Human Smile. In A. Freitas-Magalhães (Ed.), Emotional Expression: The Brain and The Face (pp.1-18). Porto: University Fernando Pessoa Press.

I also find that smiling gets people jobs, discounts, upgrades, permission to cut lines and loans (money!).

Research has shown that a person receives more help when smiling - (Gueguen & De Gail, 2003)

Our results show that being smiled at by a stranger enhances subsequent helping behavior towards another person.

These findings are congruent with [previous research] and confirm the influence of smiling on helping behavior in a new situation. Furthermore, these findings show that smiling enhances helping behavior toward a person who is not the smiler.

These findings are congruent with other results concerning the effect of nonverbal behavior on helping behavior.

source | Guéguen, N. & De Gail, M-A. (2003). The Effect of Smiling on Helping Behavior: Smiling and Good Samaritan Behavior. Communication Reports, 16(2), 133-140.

So I though it would be fun to look at some knowledge in this area.

Why Does Smiling Help?

Robert Kraut stated:

The smile is a facial response that is recognized around the globe and helps bind people together. We are indeed a "social animal," and the smile is a central way we communicate. I once did a study that blew up in my face because I asked a group of participants not to smile for three days – and they absolutely could not do it. see more

smile research

Research In Psychology

A theory entitled the "facial feedback" hypothesis states that "involuntary facial movements provide sufficient peripheral information to drive emotional experience" (Bernstein, et al., 2000).

Davis and Palladino explain that "feedback from facial expression affects emotional expression and behavior" (2000).

One study, conducted by Levenson and Friesen, found that involuntary biological changes similar to those caused by emotions were experienced by participants who were instructed to make certain faces. That is, a person making an angry face experienced increased blood flow to the hands and feet, which is also seen in those who are experiencing anger.

Research has also found that when you mimic the face of someone else, it may cause you to feel empathy for the other person (Berstein, et al., 2000).

Cross-cultural studies have shown that smiling is a means of communicating emotions throughout the world Carroll E. Izard (1971).

Types Of Smiles

Duchenne identified two distinct types of smiles.

- A Duchenne smile involves contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle (which raises the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi muscle (which raises the cheeks and forms crow's feet around the eyes).

- A non-Duchenne smile involves only the zygomatic major muscle.

Duchenne, Guillaume (1990). The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression. New York: Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1862).

Many believe that Duchenne smiles indicate genuine spontaneous emotions since most people cannot voluntarily contract the outer portion of the orbicularis oculi muscle.

Pan-Am Smile

The Pan-Am smile is the name given to a "fake smile", in which only the zygomatic major muscle is voluntarily contracted to show politeness. It is named after the airline Pan American World Airways, whose flight attendants would always flash every jet-setter the same, faked smile.

Ok, a lot of research quoted, what are you trying to say?

1. Smile. Smile from within for yourself and smile to share your happiness with people.
2. Avoid fake smiles.  People across the world are good at spotting these.  We seem to have that knowledge ingrained.
3. Find reasons to smile.  Dont go out looking for the one mega thing that will make you smile for a long long time, find smaller victories if you will.
4. Find people to share the smile with.  Apparently sharing the smile is a lot more important to us that just smiling.
5. Appreciate people who smile.  Let them know they brightened your day!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 years ago

      this is so well researched. it seems obvious that smiling is good for you!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)