The Null Device

Transatlantic smiles

A US professor of psychology has found the difference between English and American smiles. Apparently, Americans smile naturally and warmly, whereas an English smile is a suppressed grimace, or a signal of acquiescence to hierarchy (which, apparently, is internalised in the English national character):
Keltner hit upon this difference in national smiles by accident. He was studying teasing in American fraternity houses and found that low-status frat members, when they were teased, smiled using the risorius muscle - a facial muscle that pulls the lips sideways - as well as the zygomatic major, which lifts up the lips. It resulted in a sickly smile that said, in effect, I understand you must paddle me, brother, but not too hard, please. Several years later, Keltner went to England on sabbatical and noticed that the English had a peculiar deferential smile that reminded him of those he had seen among the junior American frat members. Like the frat brothers', the English smile telegraphed an acknowledgment of hierarchy rather than just expressing pleasure.

There are 1 comments on "Transatlantic smiles":

Posted by: alecm http://www.crypticide.com/dropsafe/ Mon Dec 12 09:03:06 2005

All he *really* found was that that's the smile we use on Americans who are trying to analyse us.

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