Dental patients may be unaware of how their smile is perceived by others. However, people can communicate nonverbally by way of psychological cues. These are what your gestures, posture, appearance and smile say about you before you even have to say anything. A recent study also showed that people with a more pleasing smile were seen as being more attractive, intelligent, and successful. Understanding how others see your smile, can improve your dental health and boost your self-confidence.
What do Others See?
A genuine smile often makes others feel more comfortable around you. Smiling can also make you appear friendlier. Let’s use an example of a job interview. Potential employers are not only looking at your resume and qualifications. During an interview, your ability to connect with others, as well as your overall demeanor is being evaluated. Smiling can set the tone for a positive interview experience, increasing the likelihood of a positive first impression.
When our brains attach positive qualities to a person after seeing a single quality we like, it is known as the “halo effect”. This term was coined by researcher Edward Thorndike in 1920. The idea behind the halo effect is that people essentially come to conclusions about others based on their perception of them. This might not necessarily agree with the whole, “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing, but it does further instill how important first impressions are. Smiling is a proven way to kickstart a halo effect when you meet a stranger.
Smiling is Contagious
Scientists at the University of Kansas completed a study in which subjects were asked to complete several stressful tasks. Some of the participants were instructed to smile during the tasks and the others were asked to keep a straight face. The heart rates of the participants were then measured, and the individuals were also asked to report on their stress levels. Not only were the heart rates lower in the participants who were smiling, they also reported feeling more positive overall compared to those keeping a straight face.
A similar type of study was done at Yale University by assigning tasks to small groups of volunteers. One team member was then instructed to act positively and upbeat upon entering the room. The study showed that when the positive team member entered the room, the mood of the rest of the participants immediately increased in a positive way. This further shows that when others see you smile, it affects them in the same way that it affects you.
Smiling is one of the simplest and most effective ways to make a good impression on others. It’s contagious, leaving those around you with a positive feeling, and it has a lasting impact on the people you meet. Next time you’re meeting someone new, try smiling – you may be surprised at how well it works!