We know that a smile can have many positive effects. It can help you get a job. It can help you feel younger. It can help you craft the perfect image. But it turns out that smiling can make an even bigger impact: it can help you overcome prejudices and stereotypes. That’s according to a recent study that looked at how people perceived smiling and unsmiling faces.

First Impressions Only

For this study, 90 undergraduate students were recruited to look at pictures of people and give their impressions of the people’s personalities, based on the picture alone. The personality traits they were asked to consider were:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

For this study, 8 pictures were used, four of the people smiling, and four of the same people not smiling. The people in the photos were Caucasian men, Caucasian women, Japanese men, and Japanese women.

When students rated the unsmiling photos, they showed clear signs of social stereotypies. Caucasian men, for example, were rated as less agreeable than Caucasian women, and Japanese women were considered to be less extraverted than Caucasian women.

Smiling can reduce prejudice

Compared to the unsmiling photos, the smiling photos were rated higher in extraversion and agreeableness. And when students rated the smiling pictures, the signs of this prejudice were reduced or disappeared. Smiling seemed to level the playing field and helped people escape the limits of prejudice.

Researchers concluded that in some ways people are more likely to judge you by your actions rather than by your social allegiances, such as your ethnic background and gender. Although these results are preliminary, they do confirm some other research about the power of smiles.

Be Known for a Great Smile

Our country could certainly do with a little less prejudice, and none of us wants to start off on the wrong foot. Especially when a bad first impression can be so hard to shake.

Other research has already shown that it’s your smile that plays the biggest role in the first impression you make on others. That’s for good or ill, because an unattractive smile can make people more likely to believe that you are less intelligent, less friendly, less kind, less sensitive, and  less interesting.

But if you do have an attractive smile, then you’re more likely to be given greater respect in these and other areas where your smile makes a difference.

Fortunately, you can have a great smile, even if your current smile is lacking. Cosmetic dentistry can transform your smile. Unattractive metal amalgam fillings can be removed and replaced with more attractive and more functional ceramic fillings. If your teeth are discolored, chipped, and crooked, you might think you have to wait a year or more for your new smile, but with porcelain veneers you can have beautiful straight, white teeth in about a month. Even a missing tooth is no problem: it can be easily replaced with a dental implant that will look as attractive as a natural tooth and function like one, too.

You might think that your smile is hopeless, but don’t give up on it until you’ve spoken with a Savannah cosmetic dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry. With our expertise, we can transform your smile from one that you tend to hide to one that you’ll be proud to share at every occasion.

To learn how one of our smile makeovers can help you, please call (912) 234-8282 today for an appointment at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.