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Smiles Across the World


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Published in: Technology, Education

Smiles Across the World

  1. 1. Nonverbal Communication Smiles Across the World
  2. 2. Smile: A smile is a universal facial expression that communicates happiness People smile for many other reasons such as smiling for a picture or if they find something funny or amusing Sometimes people smile out of embarrassment A smile can often be used as a sign of confidence or agreement
  3. 3. What Does a Smile Communicate? Grin Pleased smile Winning smile Plastic smile Smirk Triumphant smile Apologetic smile Flirtatious smile Welcoming smile Approval smile Smug smile Heart-warming smile Embarrassed smile Painted on smile Scornful smile Joyous smile Gloating smile Loving smile
  4. 4. Did We Learn to Smile? Researchers claim facial expressions are innate, not something babies learn to do by watching the people around them
  5. 5. Our facial expressions are a system of unconscious communication that scientists say developed before our language and even before our birth.
  6. 6. Athletes who were born blind smile with victory just like athletes who can see. We also instantly return a smile, even before our conscious brain is aware of the emotion being expressed.
  7. 7. Anatomy of a Smile Paris physician Guillaume B.A. Duchenne was treating a patient with facial neuralgia in the 1840’s when he noticed that electrical current caused the underlying muscle to contract and cause facial expressions. ( The current was too painful for experiments on living patients. So Duchenne, started to work with the freshly severed heads of executed criminals. The cadavers didn’t display the sort of joyful smile Duchenne would later describe as "put in play by the sweet emotions of the soul." But by applying electrodes he found he could make the muscles contract into facial expressions, including the smile. (Conniff 2007)
  8. 8. “Duchenne demonstrated for the first time the nature of human facial expressions. He argued that smiling, and other expressions, constitute a universal language, "which neither fashions nor whims can change . . . the same in all people, in savages and civilized nations." (Conniff 2007) (
  9. 9. A smile is a universal language but not all cultures are as free to smile as others
  10. 10. People may feel a duty to smile in some situations; in others, a smile may not be expected. Such differences vary in different countries and demonstrate that smiling reflects important cultural differences. Duchenne
  11. 11. In Western cultures it’s polite to smile when meeting someone. Smiles are necessary when greeting or having a polite conversation. The more a person smiles the more friendly he/she is perceived
  12. 12. In some cultures people have learned to control their natural instinct to smile. Some Asian cultures smile less because of social pressure that discourages emotional displays. In Japan a smile is not seen as often as in America.
  13. 13. Japanese people living in the United States pick up on the American tradition of smiling and tend to smile more than those living in Japan.
  14. 14. Bejing University Facebook
  15. 15. Volunteers in China are learning how to smile for the upcoming Olympics in Beijing. They’ve been getting training on how to smile by biting down on chopsticks. They are told to show only eight teeth in order to appear friendly without looking "goofy.“
  16. 16. Russians don’t smile out of politeness. It’s considered in poor taste to smile without a reason. A constant polite smile is considered a “smile on duty” in Russia and shows people’s insincerity, and unwillingness to show real feelings.
  17. 17. Moscow State University Facebook •It’s not typical for Russians to smile at a person whose eyes meet by chance •A Russian does not normally give a smile in return •Russians do not smile when working or doing something serious (Levine and Adelman 1993)
  18. 18. A Russian smile is a sign of personal attraction “It’s a complicated relationship” A Russian smile shows that a smiling person likes you or they are close to you. Russians do not normally show that type of affection to strangers.
  19. 19. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh In Russia a smile is the expression of either high spirits or a good attitude to a partner. A Russian needs a reason to smile, which is evident to others. It gives a person the right to smile from others’ point of view. The Russian language has the unique proverb missing in other languages, “Laughter without reasons is the sign of foolishness or psychological problems.” (Wierzbicka 1998)
  20. 20. In Germany a smile for no particular reason will not get a reaction or a smile in return. If there is a reason to smile the Germans will do so but they find our American culture too quick to smile.
  21. 21. Ludwig Maximilians University Facebook
  22. 22. Who Smiles the Most? The smile (yim in Thai) is perceived in Thailand as being the most appropriate reaction to any possible situation. It's used to show happiness, embarrassment, fear, tensi on, resignation, and remorse.
  23. 23. Bangkok, Thailand In American, English, and Finnish countries smiles are necessary when greeting or having a polite conversation.
  24. 24. Austin College Facebook
  25. 25. Age and Gender Differences • In all cultures there is a tendency for women and children to smile and use more nonverbal gestures than men • In children - both sexes smile equally • Studies show women are more emotionally expressive and sensitive than men and that’s why they smile more often. (Manusov and Patterson 2006) • Older women smile less than younger women • Women also receive more smiles from others than men (Manusov and Patterson 2006)
  26. 26. Can you identify these?
  27. 27. “Everyone smiles in the same language” ~Author Unknown “The shortest distance between two people is a smile” ~Author Unknown “Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles” ~George Eliot Peace begins with a smile ~Mother Teresa
  28. 28. References: Abel, M. H. (2002). An empirical reflection on the smile. Mellen studies in psychology, v. 4. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press. Conniff, Richard. (2007). What’s behind a smile?. Smithsonian. 38. 46-53. Retrieved April 4, 2008, from Readers' Guide database. Ekman, P., & Rosenberg, E. L. (1997). What the face reveals: basic and applied studies of spontaneous expression using the facial action coding system (FACS). Series in affective science. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Images. (2008). Retrieved April 5, 2008, from Hinde, R. A. (1972). Non-verbal communication. Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press. Levine, D. R., & Adelman, M. B. (1993). Beyond language: cross-cultural communication. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall Regents. Manusov, V. L., & Patterson, M. L. (2006). The SAGE handbook of nonverbal communication. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications. The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. (2008). Beijing 2008. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from Uba, L. (1994). Asian Americans: personality patterns, identity, and mental health. New York: Guilford Press. Wierzbicka, Anna. (1998). Russian emotional expression. Ethos. 26. 456-483. Retrieved April 4, 2008, from JSTOR database. Wikimedia. (2008). Duchenne de Boulogne. Retrieved April 5, 2008, from