Smiling can age a person by two years, say researchers

Participants in a study tended to perceive someone as older when they smiled and younger when they looked surprised

Olivia Blair@livblair
Wednesday 10 May 2017 11:27

For those who have been told they have a ‘resting bitch face’, there is finally some good news.

A new study, published in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review Journal, has suggested that smiling can make you appear two years older than if you wear a straight poker face.

Researchers flashed an array of images of the same people either smiling, neutral-faced or looking surprised to a group of 40 participants and found that they perceived the surprised faces to look younger and those who were smiling to be the oldest – even though they were the same person.

“The striking thing was that when we asked participants afterwards about their perceptions, they erroneously recalled that they had identified smiling faces as the youngest ones,” lead author Melvyn Goodale, director of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University in Canada, said. “They were completely blind to the fact they had ‘aged’ the happy-looking faces. Their perceptions and their beliefs were polar opposites.”

Mr Goodale said this was at odds with the mainstream use of smiling in adverts for skincare, including anti-ageing products,and teeth-whitening companies.

He suggested that the ageing effect of a smile stems from people’s inability to ignore the wrinkles – or ‘laughter lines’ - that form around the eyes during smiling. On the other hand, surprised looks often smooth these wrinkles.

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