My friend sent me this article about a study done to determine whether women find smiling faces more or less attractive than neutral ones. Interesting premise – I never really thought about how facial expression affects my attraction to someone!
According to the study, smiling makes men more attractive to women as husbands, but not as short-term dating partners.
Hmm – interesting! Is this actually true? And does it hold true for everyone? I don't know. But if you'd like to learn a little more about why they came to this conclusion, read on!
The Long and Short of It
Humans have two different strategies for choosing sexual partners – short-term and long-term.
The short-term strategy is all about finding a partner with awesome genes, so these can be passed on to offspring – we don't think about it that way, of course, but that's why (biologically) we as a species are attracted to people with clear skin, thick hair, straight teeth, etc. These qualities are subconsciously viewed as indicators of good health.
The long-term strategy, according to evolutionary psychologists, is more about finding a partner who will be with you through the tough times as well as the good ones, and who will be compassionate and caring when raising offspring.
The Experimental Design
Researchers asked women from Japan, Norway, and Italy (a pretty good geographic spread!) to rate the attractiveness of male faces that were either smiling or wore a neutral expression.
Half of the women were asked to evaluate the faces according to desirability as a marriage partner, while the other half were asked to evaluate their men's desirability as a potential dating prospect.
"Women evaluating men’s attractiveness for marriage rated smiling faces as more attractive than neutral faces, whereas women evaluating men’s attractiveness for a date rated smiling and neutral faces the same. In a second part of the study, 71 female Japanese university students rated the same smiling and neutral faces on three qualities thought to be important for mate selection. Women rated smiling men as less masculine and less mature, but more trustworthy compared with men who had a neutral facial expression."
Why should men smile more – or less?
So for the short-term mating strategy, the women surveyed seemed to look for masculinity and maturity. Smiling apparently detracts from your projection of these qualities.
Meanwhile, in the long-term, the women in the study seemed to prefer someone who appeared trustworthy – and smiling did the trick.
Well, I don't know about you, but whether I'm on my short-term or long-term grind, I'm all about a guy who smiles! :)
Seriously, a smile can be someone's most attractive quality. If you want to read more about the study you can check out the article here, but in all honesty, if you like to smile, I wouldn't change a thing. I don't really go for moody, broody guys. I prefer someone who likes to laugh, have fun, and be happy. :)
What do you think? Do you agree with the study, or is it a load of bull?