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Face Reading: What Does That Smile Mean?

What does that smile really mean? 50 different kinds of smiles make it difficult to decide.

Just because someone smiles at you, it doesn’t mean that they are pleased to see you, or even happy. Humans have a large repertoire of smiles which indicate different things. We need a good understanding of facial expression and body language, to work these out correctly.

There are eighty muscles at work in a smiling face. Genuine, happy smiles tend to broaden out from a minor facial movement to a broad expression that encompasses the whole face.

Smiles don’t have to be happy. They can be smiles of fear, misery, or even contempt. Smiles send powerful messages in terms of body language, but there seems to be a difference in the way they are used.

Women smile more than men when they don’t know what to do, because they know that if they smile they won’t get it wrong. Men tend not to smile when they don’t know what to do because they see it as a sign of weakness.

Sometimes smiling has nothing to do with underlying thoughts and emotions. People smile because it is what is expected of them. A prime example here is the sales person smiling and being pleasant because that comes with job, not out of sheer delight at serving the customer. Then there’s the politician who beams a great big smile at everyone so that they think he’s a really good guy.

So, next time someone smiles at you, ask yourself why. Does he want your vote? Does she want to sell you a pair of shoes? Is it a smile of contempt, or is he really delighted to see you?

What’s behind that smile?

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  1. Darlene McFarlane

    On June 13, 2007 at 11:58 am


    Whoa! Now you gave me something to think about.

  2. Francine

    On June 18, 2007 at 5:33 am


    Very interesting…I will probably be wondering if my next smile is a genuine one, I sure hope so!

  3. Lucy Lockett

    On July 9, 2007 at 1:47 pm


    What a great article! Definately thought provoking!

  4. Dustin Harrison

    On July 10, 2007 at 1:17 pm


    Wow! So true. Read my story here on socyberty please it’s called “How to conquer college:A complete guide”. Also please leave me a comment. What do you think?

  5. Ryan Archbell

    On June 2, 2008 at 8:05 pm


    WOW…i never thought there could be soooo many different ways….it sure has me thinking about that women in the shop now :)

  6. Josh Henninger

    On October 8, 2008 at 1:09 pm


    I just read this article after reading “Why Women Smile” by Amy Cunningham. It’s really interesting that the men who commented on here don’t really seem to think about the subject as deeply as women do, “…it sure has me thinking about that woman in the shop now :) ” (Ryan Archbell) And Dustin Harrison quickly tries to sell his little story on here and uses three words to comment on this one. Woman really do relate to this more than men and your eyes will be opened a whole lot more if you read, “Why Women Smile,” and the article on this page.

  7. Jessie

    On December 19, 2009 at 10:17 pm


    wow well thats something good to know.

    makes you wonder now.

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