Up until now, we all thought that smiling face makes you appear younger. But Ben-Gurion University of the Negev study has scientifically found for the first time that people who smile at others are perceived as being older than those with a deadpan or surprised expression.
The researcher, published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, conducted a series of experiments intended to gauge age perception based on facial expressions. 40 University students were shown images of people and asked to rank them from oldest to youngest.
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The pictures included of smiling face, neutral expressions, and surprised looks. They ranked the smiling face as the oldest, followed by neutral expressions and surprised expressions as the youngest.
Asked to recall their reactions after the experiment, the students erroneously remembered identifying smiling faces as being younger than neutral ones.
“Popular media promotes the idea that smiling makes you look younger,” says Associate Professor Tzvi Ganel, Ph.D, in BGU’s Department of Psychology. “Look at all of the smiling faces in skincare and dental ads. How many of us post smiling faces on social media?”
“Ironically, we discovered that the same person can believe that smiling makes you appear younger and judge smiling faces older than neutral ones,” says co-author Melvyn Goodale, director of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University in Canada.
The researchers believe that smiling makes a person look older because of the wrinkle lines that form around the eyes. A surprised face, however, lifts and pulls the skin backward, smoothing any potential age-related wrinkles.