Proving the Benefits of a Smile

November 20, 2013 Katharina Lochner

Smiling is Good For You

Please do smile, because it is quite likely to be good for you. Researchers connect smiling to success and well-being, longevity, health, and even positive perception by others.

In a TED Talk, speaker, writer and entrepreneur Ron Gutman gives an overview of research around the benefits of smiling.

In a 30 year longitudinal study researchers predicted how fulfilling and long-lasting subjects’ marriages would be, what scores they would have in standardised tests of well-being and how inspiring they would be to others from their smiles in a college yearbook. In another study, the span of a smile predicted longevity – the bigger the smile, the longer subjects’ lives.

Smiling seems to be inborn: babies are born smiling and smile a lot while sleeping and also while being awake. It seems to be universal to cultures and people across all cultures are able to distinguish a true from a fake smile. The act of smiling already makes us feel better and stimulates our reward system in the brain in such a way that even chocolate is not able to.

Smiling even can make us healthier. It can reduce the level of stress hormones and raise the level of mood enhancing hormones. Furthermore, it can reduce blood pressure. Finally, it can also make us look more likeable, but also more competent.

How come smiling has such a positive impact on our health, well-being and success in life? Smiling is an indicator that the individual is in a positive emotional state. Thus, maybe the research on positive emotions can explain many of the findings. For example, we know that a certain relation of positive to negative emotions (3:1) makes us flourish. There is also research indicating that happiness makes us successful in building our careers. And, finally, we know that well-being is related to health and longevity.

Thus, do what Ron Gutman suggests at the end of his talk: SMILE

About the Author

Katharina Lochner

Dr Katharina Lochner is the former research director for the cut-e Group which was acquired by Aon in 2017. Katharina is now a researcher and lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences Europe in Iserlohn, Germany. In her role at cut-e, she applied the research in organizational and work psychology to real-world assessment practice. She has a strong expertise in the construction and evaluation of online psychometric tools.

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