Lifestyle

Scientists have discovered why some smiles are cute and others are creepy. 

by Tod Perry

February 22, 2019

How much of your teeth should you show when you smile?

How wide should your grin be and what if it’s crooked?

Using computer-animated faces, researchers from the University of Minnesota have figured out the specific traits that make up a winning smile.

To learn what makes some smiles cute and others creepy, researchers created 27 different grins on the same computer-generated face. For each smile, they varied its toothiness, angle, width, and degree of crookedness. 

The smiles were shown to 802 participants at the Minnesota State Fair to rate each one on its effectiveness, genuineness, pleasantness, and the emotion expressed.

The Results

— Smiles with a low to medium width (“extent”) tended to get better ratings. Big smiles were rated worst when combined with a high angle (or upturn) and a lot of teeth.

— Smiles with a medium angle or upturn tended to be more popular, while the more V-shaped smiles creeped people out.

— When it comes to toothiness, open-mouthed smiles are easily mistaken for contempt or anger, so it’s better to show a little teeth or none at all.

— Smiles don’t have to be perfectly symmetrical. Researchers found that a slight crookedness is actually better than none because these smiles tend to appear more genuine. However, extremely crooked smiles weird people out.

While an attractive, genuine smile, is a great asset, researchers had a serious medical reason for doing the study. Doctors wanted to create a guide for designing smiles for people who need reconstructive surgery or are suffering from paralysis.

By having a better understanding of what makes the perfect smile, they can help improve their patients' social lives and communication skills.

Now, that’s something to smile about.

Share image via ​David Mello / Flickr.

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Scientists have discovered why some smiles are cute and others are creepy.