Smiling makes you look older

Updated about May 16, 2017

ISLAMABAD: When asked, most people would say that a smile takes years off your appearance. According to the latest study, it is quite the reverse. Research shows that, if you want to appear younger, a look of surprise is your best bet.

If you want to stay looking young, there are a number of things you might choose to do - exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep. Also, you might try smiling less.

Smiling is typically associated with youth and vibrancy, and anyone who has ever watched a makeup commercial knows that. However, scientists have discovered that, if you smile, other people will, on average, rate you as older.

A new study from Western University in Canada, published this week in the journalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review proves this point and probes a little deeper into our subconscious.

Co-author Melvyn Goodale, director of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University, says, "There is a belief out there that people who smile look younger than when they're not smiling. Of course, you certainly look happy and healthy when you smile, at peace with yourself, and that probably carries over to the idea that you look younger when you smile."

Earlier research has shown that people often rate smiling faces as younger. The authors of the current paper believe that these results are misleading. Many older studies presented participants with pictures of the same person smiling in one photo and with a neutral expression in the other.

Because of people's misconceptions about perceiving a smiling face as younger, people would respond according to their belief.

In the current study, the authors used a design that ensured this bias would not affect their results. Goodale and co-author Tzvi Ganel, of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, showed participants the same faces photographed smiling and neutral, but arranged them to ensure that each participant only saw either a smiling or neutral version of each person during their trial. In this way, people's natural belief that smiling makes you look younger could not be triggered.