Muscles to smile vs frown

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muscles to smile vs frown

Frown Quotes (14 quotes)

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Published 16.10.2019

How To Get A Symmetrical Smile With Facial Exercises

Muscles to Smile and Frown

Some sayings have been with us so long that their origins are now wholly forgotten. In a study performed in Sweden, researchers confirmed what our grandmothers already knew: that people respond in kind to the facial expressions they encounter. Test subjects were shown photos of faces — some smiling and some frowning — and required to respond with their own smiles, frowns, and non-expressions as directed by those conducting the experiment. Because we humans are wired to instinctively respond like for like, facial expressions are contagious. Yet smiling is not just good for the community in which the sad sack or grouch lives; it is also beneficial to the person doing the grinning. Facial expressions do not merely signal what one feels but actually contribute to that feeling. Likewise, faking a frown brings on a sense of not much liking the world that day.

The human face is powered, depending on how you count them, by between 23 and 43 muscles, many of which attach to the skin, serving no obvious function for survival. Tugging on the forehead, eyebrows, lips and cheeks, the muscles broadcast a wealth of information about our emotional state, level of interest and alertness. It is a remarkably efficient means of communication—almost instantaneous, usually accurate, transcending most language and cultural barriers. But sometimes the data is lost, ignored or misinterpreted. If a logger smiles in the forest with no one around to see him, was he actually happy?

You've likely been told or read in a forwarded e-mail that it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown, and that, in light of this fact, you should smile more often. There are quite a few numbers that get tossed around when this line is used. Some claim it takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 to smile, but open Aunt Milda's chain letter and you might be surprised to learn it takes 26 to smile and 62 to frown. And some naysayers claim it's quite the opposite, that in fact it takes more muscles to smile than to frown. When we make facial expressions, we're essentially transmitting a packet of information that can be received, read and interpreted by others. By contracting or expanding our facial muscles in different degrees and combinations, we can produce thousands of different messages that provide cues to our overall emotional state, our short-term feelings about our immediate environment, our mental well-being, our personality and mood, our physical health, our creditability and whether or not we view others as being creditable. The smile -- transmitted either consciously or subconsciously -- is viewed across cultures as a sign of friendliness, especially when greeting someone.

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But is the saying true? Does it really take more muscles to frown than to smile? While the origins of the phrase is unknown, one thing is certain. It actually takes more muscles to smile than to frown. For a minimal frown, only six muscles are used.

People wear a variety of smiles in their lifetimes — some revealing and others concealing. We smile when we win, and we grin to suppress chagrin. A smile can be knowing, winning or false. It can stretch sly and toothy like a crocodile grin, or appear slight and enigmatic like the smirk on the Mona Lisa. Such a wide variety suggests a hitch in the old saw that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile: Which smile do they mean? A true smile — the kind that involves eye muscles that only 1 percent or so of humans can consciously control — probably takes quite a few more muscles than a frown, while a slight, we-are-not-amused, corners-of-the-mouth upturn takes the tug of only one or two pair. Basic human emotions like anger, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt and happiness all produce recognizable expressions, but smiles can arise from a variety of emotional states — amusement, contentment, excitement, pride, satisfaction and relief, to name a few.


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