People Can Hear You Smiling on the Phone, and They Smile Back
Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee
We know that a smile is one of the most universal human expressions. It’s an essential part of communication, and, it turns out, that essence makes a difference even when people can’t see your smile.
Recent research has confirmed not only that people can hear your smile, but that they will smile in response when they do. This shows us how important it is to have a smile that you’re confident in, something that leading cosmetic dentist Dr. Kent E. White in Nashville can achieve with a smile makeover.
Why People Smile Back
One of the important things to understand about smiles is how and why they’re contagious. When we smile, it’s natural for other people to smile back, but why?
Although the contagious nature of smiles is well known, we’re not entirely sure why people smile back. The leading theory is that it’s part of our empathic response. That is, we’re partly trying to understand how the other person is feeling by mimicking their facial expression. Mimicking their facial expression stimulates the muscles involved, which then signal the brain that this is how people feel when they make this expression.
For this explanation to work, we have to accept that the relationship between smiling and happiness is reciprocal. Not only do people smile because they’re happy, they are, to some extent, happy because they smile. This has been tested a few different ways. People think jokes are funnier when they mimic a smile. They feel less pain when they smile. And people’s emotions seem to be muted when BOTOX ® injections keep them from smiling fully.
But the question is: how strong is the connection, and how does it work in the brain? Is the connection purely visual, or does the sound of smiling also trigger smiles.
Measuring the Impact of the Sound of Smiling
We have known for a while that there is a sound of smiling, or, as researchers put it, the “spectral signature of phonation with stretched lips.” And in 2008, researchers confirmed that listeners could tell what kind of smile people had, even if they couldn’t see them. But we didn’t know how this sound impacted listeners.
To test the effect, French researchers had actors speak many different sentences both smiling and unsmiling. Researchers then analyzed the sound of these different recordings in order to isolate the sound of smiling. Once they did this, they altered recordings of sentences to either include it or to have a nonsmiling effect.
They then did three experiments. First, they asked a few people to rate the “smiliness” of the speaker of each sentence and found that people correctly identified the ones with the smiling effect. Then they asked people to reproduce the sound of the speaker. They found that people emulated the facial expression that matched the intended effect.
Finally, researchers placed electromyography leads on the cheek muscles of listeners. They found that their cheek muscles activated in response to smile sounds, even if they didn’t consciously identify the speaker as smiling.
People Respond When You Smile
What is important about this study is that it reminds us that people respond when you smile. Smiling triggers an unconscious, natural response in people that actually influences their mood and their attitude toward you. (They respond more positively and they even are more likely to remember you!)
So when you’re not smiling because you are unhappy with the appearance of your smile, people respond to that as well.
Having a smile you feel comfortable and confident sharing will have a very real impact on your relationship with others. If you’re ready to smile and have the whole world smile with you, cosmetic dentistry can help.
To learn how cosmetic dentistry can impact your appearance and your life, please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment with Nashville cosmetic dentist Dr. Kent E. White at the Center for Advanced Dentistry.