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Thread: Psychologist claims Brits have 'peculiar deferential smiles'

  1. #1 Psychologist claims Brits have 'peculiar deferential smiles' 
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    Apparently there were national and cultural differences in the manner we smile.

    Galvanic smile

    By Joshua Glenn | December 18, 2005

    IS THERE an English way to smile? According to a recent study by Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, whose research specialty is the social function of emotions, there is. When Americans smile, we merely employ the zygomatic major, a facial muscle that stretches the corners of our lips up, showing our upper teeth. But when the English smile, he claims, they use both the zygomatic major and the risorius, a muscle that pulls the lips sideways, showing their lower teeth, too.

    What accounts for this national difference in facial contortions? According to Keltner, who has analyzed all 43 muscles used by humans to smile, it's largely a question of power and status: Americans smile like winners; the English smile is more deferential. Whether a winning smile is a good thing or not, however, depends on what newspaper you read. Reporting on Keltner's study last Sunday, The New York Times Magazine played up his claim that the English have a ''peculiar deferential smile that reminded him of those he had seen among [low-status] American frat members.'' Never mind Keltner's nuanced explanation that ''what the deferential smile says is, 'I respect what you're thinking of me and am shaping my behavior accordingly'''; in the analysis of the Times Magazine, the Englishman's frat-boy-like grimace is a ''sickly smile that [says], in effect, I understand you must paddle me, brother, but not too hard, please.''

    As an alert contributor to the blog Boing Boing pointed out last week, though, when The Times of London reported on Keltner's research last February, it drew a markedly different conclusion: The polite, formal English smile is ''restrained but dignified,'' and deferential only in the sense of being unbelligerent. The Times also made much of Keltner's observation that, compared with Americans, the English are ''more likely to raise their cheeks when they smile, showing the crow's feet at the corners of the eyes, [which] produces a more sincere, hard-to-fake smile.'' The American smile can seem insincere, smirked The Times, since it ''leaves the muscles at the corners of the eyes motionless''-like Botox.
    The original link has a nice goofy smile comparison to go with the article:
    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ide...alvanic_smile/


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  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Indeed. Bored tolerance may often be mistaken for deference.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman Swaroop's Avatar
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    I see these England vs India cricket matches and true... english smiles!
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    Forum Junior Lucifer's Avatar
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    Houm, I guess I can't picture what this guy is talking about... I would need to see some photograph, but nonetheless it's not unusual that an American considers that a foreigner smile is a inferior "deferential" smile whereas an American smile is a "winner" smile...

    Anyway I am from a land where most people smiles with the lips closed, or open the mouth yet the lips still cover the teeth; whereas most smiles that show the teeth are seen as false, specially those showing both upper and lower teeth... specially if they're closed, by God!


    PS: I've seen the pics on the article, and Julia Roberts shows what we would call a sovereign hypocritical stupid smile (stupid to do such a grin as if nobody was to notice its falsety. When lips and eyes speak different, trust the eyes, aye!).
    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” -Charles Darwin
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  6. #5  
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    Indeed why shouldn’t smiles be different from region to region. A smile is like a language and every important way to express your feelings. Furthermore don’t the Brits do everything the other way then most people…
    Never noticed how people smile in my country (if I think about it I think we also go for the British smile), and the accurate smile Lucifer described I would interpret as a quite reserved smile (even like green smiling). Maybe am prejudging but may I consider you are from the Asian part of the world). However as you said all depend on the eyes.
    Body language is something very important which is quite misread when travelling (Desmond Morris did very fine reportage on it looking at human in a way he did with animals and he noticed quite different behaviour and communications
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    The English smile is an attempt to cover up the worst dentistry in the world.Them inglish got wery bad teef y'know
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  8. #7  
    Forum Junior Lucifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Him
    Indeed why shouldn’t smiles be different from region to region. A smile is like a language and every important way to express your feelings. Furthermore don’t the Brits do everything the other way then most people…
    Never noticed how people smile in my country (if I think about it I think we also go for the British smile), and the accurate smile Lucifer described I would interpret as a quite reserved smile (even like green smiling). Maybe am prejudging but may I consider you are from the Asian part of the world). However as you said all depend on the eyes.
    Well, I am from a part of the world were people is reserved, thus the "reserved" smiles; as reserved people, "public" and "private" behavior differ a lot. Yet we're not Asian, rather I was talking about Catalonia... Really I don't know how "Spaniard" smile, and I actually had to think a lot about how people smiles around... the eyes are an important part of the smile, but not the teeth. A smile showing both up and down teeth looks like a tooth paste advertising, rather than a smile...
    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” -Charles Darwin
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucifer
    Well, I am from a part of the world were people is reserved, thus the "reserved" smiles; as reserved people, "public" and "private" behavior differ a lot.
    And do public and private smiles do also?

    Do you find it an advantage mixed openness in public and private?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucifer

    Yet we're not Asian, rather I was talking about Catalonia... Really I don't know how "Spaniard" smile, and I actually had to think a lot about how people smiles around... the eyes are an important part of the smile, but not the teeth. A smile showing both up and down teeth looks like a tooth paste advertising, rather than a smile...
    How is the relation of the people of Catalonia with the rest of Spain and who large is your independence?

    My interested raises their I am from Belgium (with two communities of which one is politically striding for more independence). Feel free to leave the questions unanswered.
    he who forgets...will be destined to remember (Nothing Man - Pearl Jam)
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  10. #9 what does other research say? 
    New Member cormski's Avatar
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    of course... the British maintain a stiff upper lip, which would predispose towards support of this theory. We also call this sneering though, so the message is slightly contradictory.

    It made me ...ahem... wonder if I'd be able to find any high quality relevant UK led research on the subject...

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