Here's a Reason Not to Smile

It makes you look older, a study finds
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2017 6:19 PM CDT
Here's a Reason Not to Smile
Victoria Beckham is famous for her poker face.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, FILE)

Poker-faced celebs like Victoria Beckham may have figured this out already: smiling makes you look older. A new study out of Canada claims that contrary to the popular belief that a happy grin is a sign of "positive values and youth," researchers found that flashing those pearly whites can add a year or two onto your apparent age, the New York Daily News reports. The study by Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario involved showing participants images of people with various expressions: smiling, neutral, and surprised. When asked to rate each expression youngest to oldest, the faces showing surprise were deemed the youngest; a wide-eyed look of wonder can shave years off your apparent age. But when we smile, crinkly wrinkles appear around the eyes that participants took as a sign of age.

A surprised expression, on the other hand, pulls the skin back and had the effect of erasing signs of age. Interestingly, when asked later about their perceptions, participants in the study published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review incorrectly recalled that they had tagged the smiling faces as the youngest. “They were completely blind to the fact they had ‘aged’ the happy-looking faces," co-author Melvyn Goodale says in a news release. "Their perceptions and their beliefs were polar opposites.” So what's the takeaway? To Goodale the study reveals that while "it may seem counterintuitive … people can sincerely believe one thing and then behave in a completely different way.” (Simone Biles had this to say when told she should smile.)

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