Faking a grin reduces stress, but research recently published in Psychological Science reveals that people respond to the real thing instinctively, often reacting with true smiles of their own subconsciously.
UK researchers found that people responded to genuine smiles in less than 200 milliseconds (the fastest we can process an expression and respond with a voluntary one) more often than when their partner put on a polite grin.
Although the researchers classified any smile involving the eye muscles as genuine during analysis of 48 videotaped one-on-one conversations between adults of the same sex, the real markers are internal. “There’s an emotional component to it that feels very different than a polite smile, a feeling of positivity,” says study coauthor Erin Heerey, PhD, senior lecturer in the school of psychology at Bangor University.
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