A genuine smile may help you form a new friendship or romantic partnership, a new study suggests.
Drawn to positive feelings
That's because people seem to respond much better to positive emotions when forming new personal bonds than to negative vibes such as sadness, anger or contempt, according to the researchers.
However, don't try to fake a smile to win someone over, because people can easily identify whether a smile is sincere.
In one experiment, the researchers found that dating couples could accurately track their partners' positive emotions. A second experiment found that participants tended to feel closer to strangers who displayed positive emotions, and were drawn to positive feelings almost instinctively.
The investigators also found that people display positive emotions with a so-called Duchenne smile, which involves simultaneous movement of two facial muscles around the eyes and cheeks and primarily occurs when people are sincere and happy.
Others see this type of smile as sincere and it helps with social bonding. People are highly aware of this type of smile and are good at "reading" a fake smile," according to study leader Belinda Campos of the University of California, Irvine.
The study was published recently in the journal Motivation and Emotion.
"Our findings provide new evidence of the significance of positive emotions in social settings and highlight the role that positive emotions display in the development of new social connections. People are highly attuned to the positive emotions of others and can be more attuned to others' positive emotions than negative emotions," Campos said in a journal news release.