Duchenne Smile: The Genuine Smile That Boosts Relationships

Psychologists consider a Duchenne smile to be the most genuine smile that expresses joy, happiness, enjoyment, and other positive emotions. 

Unlike other types of smiling (for example, the sociopathic smile), the Duchenne smile truly reflects your internal positive emotional state.

It is often involuntary, not forced, and is expressed during times of authentic happiness or joy.

Discovered by a French scientist in 1862, the Duchenne smile is characterized by the contraction of the muscles that lift the corners of the mouth and crinkle the skin around the eyes.

Duchenne-Smile-The-Genuine-Smile

The Duchenne Smile

The Duchenne smile is named after Guillaume Duchenne de Boulogne, a French anatomist who studied many different expressions of emotion, focusing particularly on the smile of pure enjoyment.

He conducted pioneering research on the human body in the 19th century. He is best known for mapping the muscles of the human body, including those that control facial expressions. Duchenne’s research on facial expressions led him to discover the Duchenne smile, which he described as a genuine smile that involves the contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle and the orbicularis oculi muscle around the eyes.

Duchenne identified the facial movements that make this smile different from other types of smiles, and he found that it involves the activation of both the zygomatic major muscle (the muscle that runs along your cheekbone) and the orbicularis oculi muscle (the muscle that lines the top of your lip).

Duchenne’s work on the Duchenne smile was further popularized by Charles Darwin, who cited Duchenne’s research in his book “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals”. The Duchenne smile was also studied by Carney Landis, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, who used it to investigate emotional responses in humans.

Duchenne’s findings were largely overlooked at the time, but his work was rediscovered by Paul Ekman, who showed that Duchenne was right and named the smile of pure pleasure in his honor.

Today, the Duchenne smile is widely recognized as a genuine expression of happiness and positive emotions. Its importance in the study of emotions and human behavior has made it a topic of interest for psychologists and researchers around the world.

Anatomy of The Duchenne Smile

The key difference between a real happy smile and a fake one lies in the orbicularis oculi muscle (causing crow’s feet around the eyes), which only contracts during a genuine smile.

Facial Muscles Involved

Smiling is a complex facial expression that involves the contraction of several facial muscles. The muscles responsible for a smile are the zygomatic major muscle and the orbicularis oculi muscles. These muscles work together to create the characteristic shape of a smile.

Zygomatic Major

The zygomatic major muscles are located on the cheekbones and are responsible for lifting the corners of the mouth. When the zygomatic major muscles contract, they pull the corners of the mouth upward, creating a smile.

Orbicularis Oculi

The orbicularis oculi muscles are located around the eyes and are responsible for creating wrinkles around the eyes when a person smiles. These wrinkles are often referred to as “crow’s feet.” The orbicularis oculi muscles are also involved in the involuntary closing of the eyes when a person laughs or smiles.

Types of Smiles

Duchenne Smile vs Non-Duchenne Smile

The Duchenne smile, named after French physician Guillaume Duchenne, is a genuine smile that engages both the zygomatic major and orbicularis oculi muscles. On the other hand, a non-Duchenne smile only involves the zygomatic major muscle, and may not be a genuine expression of happiness.

Polite Smile vs Genuine Smile

Polite smiles are often used to appear friendly or approachable, but they are not necessarily genuine expressions of emotion. Genuine smiles, like the Duchenne smile, involve the whole face and are a true reflection of how a person is feeling.

Pan-Am Smile vs Duchenne Smile

The Pan Am smile, also known as the “Botox smile,” is a forced smile that only involves the muscles around the mouth. It was popularized by flight attendants in the 1960s and is often seen as insincere. In contrast, the Duchenne smile is a genuine expression of emotion that involves the entire face.

Different types of smiles can convey different meanings and emotions, and understanding them can help individuals better communicate with others.

Emotions and Duchenne Smile

Joy and Happiness

The Duchenne smile is often associated with joy and happiness. It is a genuine expression that involves the contraction of the orbicularis oculi muscle, which causes the eyes to crinkle and the cheeks to raise. This type of smile is considered more authentic and trustworthy than a non-Duchenne smile, which only involves the contraction of the zygomatic major muscle.

Stress and Embarrassment

In contrast, stress and embarrassment can lead to non-Duchenne smiles that lack the crinkling of the eyes. These smiles are often forced and can be a sign of discomfort or unease. In some cases, people may use non-Duchenne smiles to mask their true emotions.

Positive Emotion vs Negative Expression

The Duchenne smile is a positive expression of emotion, while non-Duchenne smiles can be a sign of negative expression. For example, a person may use a non-Duchenne smile to hide their sadness or anger. It is important to note that the Duchenne smile is not always a sign of happiness, but rather a genuine expression of positive emotion.

In conclusion, the Duchenne smile is a genuine expression of positive emotion that involves the contraction of the orbicularis oculi muscle. It is often associated with joy and happiness, while non-Duchenne smiles can be a sign of discomfort or negative expression.

Duchenne Smile and Communication

Nonverbal Communication

The Duchenne smile is a type of smile that is considered to be a genuine expression of happiness. It involves the contraction of the zygomatic major muscle, which raises the corners of the mouth, and the orbicularis oculi muscle, which causes the eyes to crinkle. This type of smile is a form of nonverbal communication that can convey positive emotions, such as joy, happiness, and contentment.

Social Interactions

The Duchenne smile can play an important role in social interactions. When someone smiles at us with a Duchenne smile, we are more likely to perceive them as friendly, trustworthy, and approachable. This can help to build rapport and strengthen social bonds. On the other hand, a non-Duchenne smile, which does not involve the contraction of the orbicularis oculi muscle, may be perceived as insincere or fake.

Body Language

The Duchenne smile is just one example of how body language can communicate emotions and attitudes. Other examples of nonverbal communication include posture, gestures, and facial expressions. By paying attention to these cues, we can gain insight into a person’s thoughts and feelings, even if they are not saying anything. In social interactions, body language can be just as important as verbal communication, if not more so.

In conclusion, the Duchenne smile is a genuine expression of happiness that can play an important role in nonverbal communication and social interactions. By paying attention to body language cues, we can gain insight into a person’s thoughts and feelings, even if they are not saying anything.

Duchenne Smile Across Cultures

Cultural Differences

The Duchenne smile, named after the French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne, is a genuine smile that involves the contraction of two sets of facial muscles. However, recent studies have shown that the use of the Duchenne marker of a ‘true’ smile is not universal and is limited to certain cultures. For instance, a study found that in East Asian cultures, people tend to smile less frequently and less intensely than those in Western cultures. This difference in smiling behavior may be due to cultural norms that discourage the expression of strong emotions.

Duchenne Smile in Asia

In Asia, the Duchenne smile is not as common as in Western cultures. A study found that Japanese individuals tend to smile less frequently and less intensely than Americans. This difference in smiling behavior may be due to cultural norms that discourage the expression of strong emotions. In addition, the Duchenne smile may be less common in Asia because people tend to avoid showing their teeth when smiling. This is because showing teeth is often associated with aggression or submission in Asian cultures.

Overall, cultural differences play a significant role in the expression of the Duchenne smile. While it is a universal expression of happiness, the intensity and frequency of the Duchenne smile may vary across cultures.

Duchenne Smile and Well-being

One study looked at photos of professional baseball players from the 1950s and found that Duchenne smilers had a 70% chance of living until age 80 compared with 50% for non-smilers (Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity, Abel & Kruger, 2010).

Impact on Stress Recovery

A Duchenne smile, also known as a genuine smile, has been shown to have a positive impact on stress recovery. Studies have found that individuals who smile more often have lower levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. Additionally, the act of smiling can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure, further aiding in stress relief.

Link to Better Tips

The Duchenne smile has also been linked to better tips in service industries. A study found that waitresses who smiled more received higher tips from customers. This is likely due to the fact that a genuine smile can help create a positive and welcoming environment, leading to increased customer satisfaction.

Health Benefits

In addition to its impact on stress and tips, the Duchenne smile has also been associated with various health benefits. Research has shown that smiling can boost the immune system, leading to improved overall health. Additionally, the act of smiling can release endorphins, which can help reduce pain and improve mood.

In conclusion, the Duchenne smile has numerous benefits for both physical and emotional well-being. By reducing stress, improving customer satisfaction, and boosting overall health, the act of smiling can have a profound impact on one’s quality of life.

Duchenne Smile and Deception

Detecting Dishonesty

The Duchenne smile is widely considered to be a genuine expression of happiness or enjoyment, but can it also be used to deceive? Research suggests that it may be more difficult to fake a Duchenne smile compared to a non-Duchenne smile, as the former involves the activation of specific facial muscles that are harder to control voluntarily. Therefore, detecting a genuine Duchenne smile may be a useful tool in detecting dishonesty.

Psychological Distance and Lying

However, it’s important to note that not all instances of deception involve lying. In some cases, individuals may use deception to protect themselves or others from harm, or to maintain social harmony. Additionally, psychological distance can also influence the likelihood of deception, with individuals being more likely to deceive when they perceive greater psychological distance between themselves and the person they are interacting with.

In conclusion, while the Duchenne smile may be a useful tool in detecting deception, it’s important to consider the context and motivations behind the deception. Psychological distance and intent can also play a role in determining the likelihood of deception.

Duchenne Smile in Research and Studies

Meta-Analysis

A meta-analysis conducted by a group of behavioral scientists found that the Duchenne smile is a reliable indicator of positive affect. The study analyzed over 200 articles on human facial expressions and concluded that the Duchenne smile, which involves the orbicularis oculi muscle and is associated with smiling eyes, is a reflexive expression of positive emotion.

Research on College Yearbook Photos

In a study on college yearbook photos, it was found that individuals who displayed Duchenne smiles in their photos had more positive social relationships and higher levels of sociability. The study also found that those who displayed non-Duchenne smiles or no smiles at all had higher levels of depression and emotional pain.

Studies on Professional Baseball Players

Studies on professional baseball players found that those who displayed Duchenne smiles had higher levels of empathy, pride, and belief in their abilities. Additionally, players who displayed Duchenne smiles had lower levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, and higher levels of endorphins, the hormones associated with pleasure.

Overall, the Duchenne smile has been shown to be a reliable indicator of positive emotion and is associated with a range of positive outcomes, including better social relationships and lower levels of stress. While some studies have suggested that the Duchenne smile may be contagious, more research is needed to fully understand the nature of this phenomenon.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a genuine smile and how is it different from a fake smile?

A genuine smile, also known as a Duchenne smile, involves the contraction of two sets of facial muscles, the zygomatic major muscle around the corners of the mouth and the orbicularis oculi muscle around the eyes. A fake smile, on the other hand, only involves the zygomatic major muscle. The difference between the two lies in the activation of the orbicularis oculi muscle, which is associated with positive emotions and reflects genuine happiness.

What is the neuroscience behind smiling?

Smiling is a complex process that involves the activation of various regions of the brain, including the amygdala, basal ganglia, and prefrontal cortex. These regions work together to process emotional stimuli, regulate facial expressions, and generate positive emotions. Smiling also triggers the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins, which are associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness.

What is the difference between a Duchenne smile and a social smile?

A Duchenne smile is a genuine smile that reflects true happiness, while a social smile is a fake smile that is used to convey politeness or friendliness. The main difference between the two is the activation of the orbicularis oculi muscle, which is only present in a Duchenne smile.

Why is the Duchenne smile named after Duchenne?

The Duchenne smile is named after the French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne, who first identified the muscle movements associated with genuine happiness in the mid-19th century. Duchenne used electrical stimulation to isolate the specific muscles involved in smiling and described the resulting expression as the “smile of the soul.”

Is the Duchenne smile rare?

While the Duchenne smile is less common than social smiles, it is not necessarily rare. People display genuine smiles in response to a variety of positive emotions, including joy, amusement, and contentment. However, some individuals may have difficulty expressing genuine emotions due to social or psychological factors.

Can a Duchenne smile make a person more attractive?

Research suggests that people find Duchenne smiles more attractive and trustworthy than social smiles. This may be due to the association between genuine smiles and positive emotions, which are seen as desirable traits in social interactions.

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