In the classic hit “Smile,” Nat King Cole and Michael Jackson both crooned that a girl should “smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking.” Now a new study shows there’s actually one type of smile that does more harm than good.
Faking a smile not only worsens our moods, it also causes us to “withdraw from the tasks at hand,” according to new research published in the Academy of Management Journal. Scientists shadowed a group of bus drivers (whose jobs require constant, and courteous, interaction with the public) for two weeks.
Their goal? To observe their interactions with commuters throughout their daily routes.
To their suprise, the researchers found that when the drivers forced out a smile they didn’t mean, they would fall into worse moods and lose interest in doing their jobs. However, those who engaged in sincere smiles improved their overall moods and became more productive.
And apparently women are more affected by the fake smile phenomenon than men. According to Brent Scott, an assistant professor of management at Michigan State University, women are culturally conditioned to be more emotionally expressive, so hiding how we really feel creates a bigger strain.
A handy tip to know next time you’re forced to greet a frienemy. Also clutch? Tips to spot a fake smile aimed at you.
And while we’re at it: What could possibly be cuter than a herd of smiling animals?