Dean

Anatomy of a False Smile

Most people smile every day. It is an automatic reflex and a deliberate one, so in many cases it does not indicate joy. Scientists say smiles can be an evolutionary behavior, designed to let others know that we’re not being threatening. They point to chimps who might smile because they are happy or smile to show they have no wish to challenge another animal. Sometimes people mistake an animal’s open mouth or display of teeth as “smiling” or “laughing”, to their own peril.

It might look like this chimp is laughing, but mistaking his aggression for playfulness would be no joke

This chimp isn’t laughing; his expression is aggressive 

There are many reasons people display an insincere smile, including nervousness, manipulation, confusion, embarrassment, and many others. It’s worth knowing if someone’s smile is sincere, but often it’s difficult to tell a real expression from a feigned one. There are a few tell-tale signs you can easily distinguish though, so let’s examine a few smiles that are definitely not authentic.

Exhibit A is Rick Perry, the governor of Texas. After being indicted, Governor Perry posed for his mug shot. Hs expression is technically a smile, but it hardly exudes happiness. The two giveaways in this picture are his mouth and his forehead. A real smile is somewhat loose, but the muscles around Governor Perry’s mouth are tightened. When you’re happy, your eyebrows naturally lift a little. Perry’s forehead is even, or possibly even lowered, which is a sign of anger.

Governor Rick Perry

Governor Rick Perry

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Words with the Power to Move Us

Josiah Quincy made a speech in Boston near the outbreak of the American Revolution. Quincy was an influential attorney and the spokesman for the Sons of Liberty, a group of revolutionaries that included John Hancock and Paul Revere.

In December 1773, the atmosphere in Boston was tense and angry. Yet the colonists hesitated to rebel, knowing that defying England would result in a sure, swift, and severe punishment.

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