Articles on Why Smiling Matters

Scientific American: Masks Can Be Detrimental to Babies’ Speech and Language Development
2/11/2021
“Faces are a complex and rich source of social, emotional and linguistic signals. We rely on all of these signals to communicate with one another through a complex and dynamic dance that depends on each partner being able to read the otherโ€™s signals.”

Crafta: Thoughts and challenges for clinicians treating persons with head and face problems
4/13/2020
“Nonverbal communication is dependent on facial emotional expression, which often works as an early warning system and shows us how the person might feel at the moment. Empirical evidence confirms that our own facial expressions’ feedback modulates our emotional experiences. For instance, smiling of a person (stimulus) initiates directly the smiling facial motor activity in another personโ€™s โ€œfacial mimicry.โ€ This may facilitate an emotional response (happiness) and other physical reactions like autonomic arousal (sweating, heartbeat changes) and bodily motor responses (smile) which is called โ€œfacial mimicry.โ€ Besides storing this somato- sensory-motor experience, the brain scrutinizes it against millions of other facial mimicry experiences it has experienced previously, which leads to subtle individual non-verbal communication and empathy.”

Psychology Open Letter to Policy Makers and the Public
11/1/2020
“Covering of the face can lead to a sense of anonymity and social isolation, to changes in social dynamics, such as distrust and aggression, and to reduced awareness of othersโ€™ needs, for example, not being able to see signs of distress. Enforced mask wearing has also created division (e.g. labelling of people as altruistic vs selfish) and discrimination (e.g. restricted access to those who are exempt) within society.”

Science Daily: Why smiles (and frowns) are contagious
2/11/2016
“Growing evidence shows that an instinct for facial mimicry allows us to empathize with and even experience other people’s feelings. If we can’t mirror another person’s face, it limits our ability to read and properly react to their expressions.”

The Atlantic: How Smiles Control Us All
1/30/2013
“First, smiling occurs in social situations and helps facilitate positive emotions and relationships with others. Those individuals who find themselves unable to smile may experience more social isolation, leading to more depressive symptoms from loneliness. This could be a strong negative feedback loop.”

HuffPost Lite: 11 Surprising Reasons You Should Smile Every Day
12/6/2017
“Smiling employees came across as more likable and friendly, and customers left the interactions feeling more satisfied about their overall experience….the added display of an authentic smile helped workers appear more competent as well.”
Study link: http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/a/a/aag6/OBHDP.pdf

“From a psychological perspective, a person who is smiling appears more trustworthy than a person who is either frowning or holding a neutral expression….Study participants ranked 45 models on these three conditions, revealing that the bigger the models smiled, the more trustworthy they seemed.”
Study link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22913033/

Scientific American: The Mirror Neuron Revolution: Explaining What Makes Humans Social
7/1/2008
“When I see you smiling, my mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, initiating a cascade of neural activity that evokes the feeling we typically associate with a smile. I donโ€™t need to make any inference on what you are feeling, I experience immediately and effortlessly (in a milder form, of course) what you are experiencing.”

BMJ: Face coverings for covid-19: from medical intervention to social practice
8/19/2020
“Facemasks prevent the mirroring of facial expressions, a process that facilitates empathetic connections and trust between pupils and teachers. This potentially leads to a significant increase in socio-psychological stress.”

“Several studies show that long-term exposure to socio-psychological stress leaves neuro-epigenetic scars that are difficult to cure in young people and often escalate into mental behavioural problems and a weakened immune system. A recent study by the CDC concludes that in young adults (18-24 years), the level of anxiety and depression has increased by 63% (!) since the corona crisis. A quarter of them think about suicide.”

“Several researchers have shown a relationship between the increase in stress experiences and the risk of upper respiratory tract infections and mortality.”

More to come…