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Why we smile?

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Smiling person is loved most than one pressing lips tightly and glaring at you. We feel quite better when somebody smiles at us and we tempt to smile in return. Smile’s magical in human society. It helps in winning people’s hearts and draw sympathy and favor.

But why we smile at each other so obviously - without training or compulsion? Answer’s both exciting and bizarre. Let’s understand how we came to know about its original at first place.

Monkey smile
Very few of us might know that our primate cousins (apes and monkeys) also smile at each other. Smiling in their society has lot to do with social dominance and survival ultimately. When two primates stand in front of each other or pass along side, edge of their mouth cringe.

By doing this, they make each other feel safe. Unconsciously they pass a message, “Don’t scare. I’m not bearing teeth at you. I’m friendly.”

Only dominant male (head of group) smiles very less. He exerts his dominance over the sub-dominant members by portraying anger on face.

Smile18
If we keenly look at facial expressions of between angry – teeth bearing person and smiling person, the difference talks a loud itself. Edges of angry person’s mouth are turned downwards and teeth are displayed quite often. Whereas, edges of smiling person’s mouth are turned upwards despite of teeth display.

It clearly means that not showing angry or disappointed approach towards others make them feel safe from you.

Imagine a person glaring at you with tight lips pressed for long time; you would unconsciously tempt to retaliate or run away even if you both are familiar with each other.

Smile12
We evolved from primates and got smile in heredity. We further evolved smile for expressing acceptance, friendliness, approachability, innocence, agreeability, fondness etc. All these expressions are closely related to non-threatening social behavior.


We can portray 43 different kinds of smile. Most of them are related to courtship/flirting.



Following are apparent scenarios when we find somebody smiling (at each other):

A) Two familiar persons are walking on the street and suddenly watch each other. One of them waves hand at the other or calls him/her by name. Both smile at each other after coming closer at the distance where both can see each other’s face clearly.

B) An annoyed father scolds his baby in dramatic way and starts glaring at her, baby flashes a sweet smile and makes funny - innocent noise. Father’s annoyance disappears in moments and he also starts smiling at her in return.

C) A candidate facing interview smiles a brief while introducing himself/herself to interviewers.

D) A young you boy smiles at girl he finds attractive. Girl coyly smiles at him in return.

E) Two strangers bump on each other on crowded walk way. Both of them smile at each other and apologize.

F) Children wave their hands and smile at tourists riding a bus passing by them and commuters reciprocate by smile and hand wave.

G) A school girl offers a piece of cake to stranger baby with smile while playing in park. Baby returns an innocent smile at her and accepts cake.

Sachchidanand Swami (Nonverbal World) - August 9, 2011 (UTC)

Read related articles: Geninue Smile

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