Razi Berry

It has been said that up to 90% or our communication is non-verbal, meaning that facial expressions, body posture, and gestures are incredibly important in developing our social intelligence. But what if we’re taking certain facial expressions to mean things that they don’t actually mean. Like a smile, for instance.

Research reveals that smiling does not necessarily equate with happiness

Recent research has shown that smiling does not necessarily equate with happiness. This is quite the finding, considering the generally held belief that smiling does in fact mean someone is happy, especially when they are engaging with another person or in a group. This may not always be the case.

Study looked at one-to-one Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI)

The study looked at one-to-one Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI), which researchers claim mimic the way people behave in socially engaging situations.
The research study asked 44 participants (ages 18-35) to play a geography quiz game. The quiz game was made in such a way that the questions were very difficult and wrong answers were common. The study participants were alone in a room interacting with the computer while their faces were video recorded.

After the quiz

After the quiz, individuals were asked to rate their subjective experience while playing the game. They were asked to use a range of 12 emotions including, “bored,” “interested,” and “frustrated.” Their spontaneous facial expressions were analyzed frame by frame in order to determine how much they were smiling based on scale of zero to one.

Study showed the following

The study showed that in the HCI scenarios, smiling was not a product or expression of happiness, but rather engagement.

This research is meant to flush out a discrepancy between two opposing camps on the purpose of smiling. Among one camp, researchers say that a genuine smile is a reflection of an inner state of cheerfulness or amusement. On the other hand, Behavioural Ecology Theory claims that smiling is a tool used in social interactions, that cheerfulness is not required.

During the study, the emotion that was statistically the most associated with smiling was “engagement.”

Frame by frame

The study broke the facial expressions done in frame by frame timing, which allowed the researchers to determine exactly when each participant was smiling during the computer interaction. Interestingly, participants were not seen to be smiling while they were trying to figure out the questions. They tended to smile once they were informed if their answer was correct or wrong. Surprisingly, individuals smiled more often after wrong answers than correct ones.


Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review  that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath.  She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at  Love is Medicine  to explore the convergence of love and health.

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