Watch the way you smile…the wrong kind of smile can trigger stress

Photo Credit: body & mind balance

By Chiamaka Ajeamo

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to boost your health, mood, longevity and even to relieve stress is to smile. Smiles either warm hearts or cause envy in souls. Recently, however, researchers have discovered that smiles are of various kinds and the wearing of a wrong one can stress you out.

Recently, however, researchers have discovered that smiles are of various kinds and the wearing of a wrong one can stress you out.

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According to researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison there are three different kinds of smiles namely; Dominance, Affiliation and Reward smiles and in stressful situations are responsible for either an ease or a rise in the stress levels of the targets.

Jared Martin, the lead researcher said that “Facial expressions really do regulate the world. We have that intuition, but there has not been a lot of science behind it. Our results show that subtle differences in the way you make facial expressions while someone is talking to you can fundamentally change their experience, their body, and the way they feel like you are evaluating them.”

He said that the Dominance smile is meant to convey power or authority (the sadistic smile that tells people I have the power to do anything). The Affiliation smile conveys a bond and demonstrates that one is not a threat (the sweet smile that shows people that you welcome them and are open to communication), while the Reward smile exhibits happiness (the smile where you have all your teeth visible to show people that you are happy with them).

The study utilized 90 male college students who were given a series of short, impromptu speaking assignments. Throughout their speech, they were shown brief video clips of the judge’s reactions, which were a pre-recorded version of reward, affiliation or dominance smiles. The subjects were observed and judged over a webcam by the researchers. The subjects heart rates were also monitored and periodically, for the cortisol levels in their saliva. Cortisol is a hormone that determines the stress levels in a person.

According to researcher Paul Niedenthal, “If the subjects received dominance smiles, which they would interpret as negative and critical, this means they felt more stress, and their cortisol went up and stayed up longer after their speech. If they received reward smiles, they reacted to that as approval, and it kept them from feeling as much stress and producing as much cortisol.”

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He further stated that our heart-rates are affected by our lifestyle, behaviors, physical shape, diseases and disorders as well as our mental stability. These factors are responsible for the difference in each individual’s recognition and reaction to social signals like dominance and reward smiles.

So, endeavour to wear the right smile for the right situations. Keep smiling!


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