Research suggests there are close to 20 types of smiles, and about a third of them have nothing to do with happiness. Experts have studied the science behind smiling for centuries. In the early days, one scientist used repeated electrocution to get his subject to smile. In the era of emojis and social media, scientists have more opportunity than ever to learn and understand more about this subtle, non-verbal cue, and its many interpretations and misinterpretations.


1. Darwin Facial Feedback Hypothesis

In 1872, Charles Darwin stated that freely expressed emotions were intense, while repressed emotions were more reserved. A German study showed that facial feedback not only tells more about the cause of the smile but also has a small impact on the experience. This means the act of smiling, even when used as a coping mechanism, can affect one's reaction to a situation.

Charles-Darwin facial-expressions smiles Grafissimo / Getty Images


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