Q: I’ve read a lot about what to wear to make myself look as attractive as possible. But is there any way for a man to make his face more attractive?
A: Research has shown there is one extremely inexpensive, simple, and highly effective way to make one’s face instantly more attractive: SMILE.
In 2013, an article was published in the journal Cognition & Emotion (link: https://www.cclm.unibe.ch/) about a study to determine the effect of emotional expression on facial attractiveness.
- In the study, a number of male and female facial images were created digitally by manipulating previous photographic images.
- By the time they were done, they had facial images that varied in attractiveness that weren’t identical to any one person (they were generally composite averages of a number of faces).
- The faces were then digitally altered to either have a neutral expression, or a smiling expression.
- Then, face pairs were shown to participants who judged which face was more attractive.
- On average, male faces that were smiling were rated as more attractive than those with a neutral expression. The same was true for female faces.
These findings were the same as in a previous experiment from 2007.
In this experiment, the researchers were studying the difference between “Duchenne smiles” and “Non-Duchenne smiles.”
- Named after the eccentric facial anatomist Guillame-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne de Boulogne (1806-1875), Duchenne smiles don’t just involve the mouth region, but extend to the eye region as well (narrowing the eyes, causing crow’s feet, etc.). In other words, Duchenne smiles are more intense and involve more of the face than a smile of the mouth.
- Since Duchenne smiles are more intense and involve more of the face, they are categorized as more “sincere” than smaller smiles. Non-Duchenne smiles could simply be a polite little smile, but Duchenne smiles are huge smiles that can barely be contained.
25 faces (men and women) were photographed of people smiling and with a neutral expression. Then, these faces were categorized by whether they were Duchenne or Non-Duchenne smiles.
Then, the faces (smiling and not smiling) were presented to experimental participants who rated them on ten attributes:
- Openness to Experience
Those with an intense, “Duchenne” smile were seen as more generous and more extroverted than those with a smaller smile.
However, in general, ANY kind of smile greatly improved judgments of attractiveness, generosity, health, and agreeableness.
Slight increases were seen in trustworthiness, competitiveness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience in those who smiled vs. those who didn’t.
In other words, for the most part, it didn’t matter whether the smile was genuine or not genuine, it still improved the judged qualities of the faces (including attractiveness).
If you want an instant, free, easy way to improve your facial attractiveness, then SMILE!
Looking neutral or downcast is not a way to attract people.
Of course, there are social situations when smiling widely is not appropriate (formal business meetings, funerals), but if you want to give yourself a social edge, go ahead and smile. Even if you feel like you’re “faking it.”
Golle, J., Mast, F. W., & Lobmaier, J. S. (2013). Something to smile about: The interrelationship between attractiveness and emotional expression. Cognition & Emotion, 1-13. Link: https://www.cclm.unibe.ch/
Mehu, M., Little, A. C., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2007). Duchenne smiles and the perception of generosity and sociability in faces. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 183-196. Link: https://www.affective-sciences.org/node/2997