Why Do Americans Smile So Much?

People around the world have stereotypes of Americans. We're overweight, rich, armed, loud, and we smile all the time. An exaggeration, of course, but Americans do smile more than other cultures. Why is that? Surely we aren't that much happier than other developed nations.

For a study published in 2015, an international group of researchers looked at the number of “source countries” that have fed into various nations since the year 1500. Places like Canada and the United States are very diverse, with 63 and 83 source countries, respectively, while countries like China and Zimbabwe are fairly homogenous, with just a few nationalities represented in their populations.

After polling people from 32 countries to learn how much they felt various feelings should be expressed openly, the authors found that emotional expressiveness was correlated with diversity. In other words, when there are a lot of immigrants around, you might have to smile more to build trust and cooperation, since you don’t all speak the same language.

That makes plenty of sense, especially since so many non-immigrant Americans only speak one language. It may also be because we spend so much money on our teeth, we want to show them off. Other reasons for the American smile are explored in an article at the Atlantic.  -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Flickr user Kristo)


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For example... the photo that is shown for the top of the post is a classic "drop-jaw" smile, where the draw is dropped and the teeth are apart. This is a "false smile" used for social positioning. Like I said, Aggressive, hierarchical, and lying.
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We smile a lot because we are culture that is aggressive, hierarchical, and lies. We rarely perform Duchenne smiles to outsiders (where the eyes crinkle, an honest sign of happiness), but instead we use the primate fear smile, which is used to fend off aggressiveness.
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I am very skeptical of this research. This does not explain, for instance, Filipinos. Sure we have influences from Chinese, American, and Malay cultures; but on the whole we're not that varied. As an island nation, we are like Japan in that we're isolated from the mainland.

Yet we are irrationally happy. We sing a lot because we are happy or try drive away our sadness. And we smile a lot. I can't understand it.
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