Many female celebrities, like Victoria Beckham, are rarely caught on camera smiling, perhaps for fear of showing age-revealing laughter lines.
But smiling for the camera could actually make you look more attractive, a study suggests.
Researchers recruited 112 volunteers and presented them each with 80 pictures of people who either had a neutral expression or were slightly smiling.
Asked to rate the faces for attractiveness, they gave higher scores to people who were smiling.
Asked how they judged attractiveness, more of the study participants took into account someone’s facial expression and whether they looked friendly than their clothing, hairstyle and level of grooming.
Many female celebrities, like Victoria Beckham, are rarely caught on camera smiling, perhaps for fear of showing age-revealing laughter lines. But smiling for the camera could actually make you look more attractive, a study suggests
The study volunteers were also asked to swipe through pictures of smiling or neutral faces – rather like using a dating app, but in this case to say which photographs they would ‘keep’ or ‘delete’.
Around 53 per cent of smiling photos were chosen to be kept, compared to only around 44 per cent of those where people had neutral expressions.
Dr Christian Valuch, who led the study from the University of Vienna, said: ‘People always had straight faces in Victorian photographs, and in the 1990s it again became fashionable for supermodels and celebrities not to smile – if they wanted to appear cool.
‘But these results suggest people look more attractive when they are smiling.
‘It is a facial expression we are drawn to, because it makes people look friendly, approachable and non-threatening.
‘So when you are told to smile for the camera, you probably should.
‘I’m sure Victoria Beckham might like to smile more, based on these results.’
The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, used computer-generated male and female faces, although these looked so lifelike only a handful of study participants guessed they were not real people.
Study participants, aged 18 to 30, had only a second to swipe through each photograph and press a key to keep or delete it.
The results showed people instinctively preferred smiling faces when quickly swiping – suggesting smiling photographs on an online dating app could improve the chances of a match.
Asked why they kept photographs, around 44 per cent of people said facial expression and friendliness were important.
When given longer to look at the photographs, and rate a person’s attractiveness, both men and women also preferred smiling people.
Volunteers were also asked to swipe through pictures of smiling or neutral faces (pictured) – rather like using a dating app, but in this case to say which photographs they would ‘keep’ or ‘delete’. Around 53 per cent of smiling photos were chosen to be kept, compared to only around 44 per cent of those where people had neutral expressions
They found these images more beautiful overall, although the beauty rating also took into account factors like whether the pictured person had nature or a blank background behind them.
Asked for important factors they used to judge whether the photos were attractive, more than a quarter of the study volunteers gave an answer mentioning facial expression and how friendly someone looked.
It was the joint top answer along with someone’s facial features, facial symmetry and skin texture.
However the study found more experienced photographers were less swayed by whether someone was smiling in a picture, as their judgments may be more sophisticated.
Dr Valuch said: ‘We currently apply filters to selfies to improve the appearance of skin, or remove wrinkles, so it could easily be the case that in the future we edit photos to add a smile and make ourselves look more attractive.
‘A holiday photo where someone wasn’t enjoying themselves in that moment could be changed that way, because smiles are very powerful.’
SMILING CAN MAKE YOU MORE ATHLETIC, STUDY FINDS
Scientists have found that projecting positive energy and smiling can improve athletic performance.
Researchers from Ulster University found that grinning can reduce an athlete’s perceived effort, or how hard they feel they are working, making the sport easier for them.
Runners used 2.8 percent less energy when smiling in comparison to frowning.
The study found that smiling can help runners relax and reduce muscle tension, making the activity easier.
In fact, researchers say many top athletes, including Olympic marathon gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge, smile to enhance their performance.