The response we are getting to our social media challenge every month is very humbling. Before we get to the answer, our heartfelt gratitude to one and all for not only taking out time to respond to our challenge, but also for creating more awareness by sending the challenge forward to their friends and family.
Coming to the answer, the most frequent answer we received was 2,3,4,1. One of my friends called to ask why this challenge was so simple. If one looks closely at the question, it was actually to observe smiles from least relaxed to the most relaxed, not really which is a less smiling face and which is smiling back the most. The correct sequence is 3,2,4,1. The reasons follow:
When observing body language, it is very important to know the context, or the setting in which the behaviour is displayed. This helps us understand why we see what we do. The context to this was explained with the challenge – it is a birthday party where first the daughters dressed up their fathers and then the fathers were asked to smile for the camera.
3: We see discomfort in this picture, evident from the tightly compressed lips, the closed eyes and the slightly raised up chin. We close our eyes tightly when we want to shut out what we are feeling or experiencing or we want to think deeply. Here obviously there is no thought process involved, only the want to escape from the situation of being clicked. Raised up chin is a universal sign of dislike. W We compress our lips when we feel stressed. These three signs together make this the least relaxed smile.
2: There is no real tension on the face. But the neck has been withdrawn towards the back, a modified response to a want to escape the situation. Also, the smile is not reaching the eyes, which makes it a social smile. And when we are not genuinely happy, the expression on the face can be asymmetric, as can be seen here. This happens with all of us, only it requires close observation. Also, this smile is very different from the smile of contempt, which is also an asymmetric smile. We will discuss contempt some other time.
4: Here the smile is very much reaching the eyes, since the muscles at the sides of the eyes have been pulled downwards. Generally, this happens when a person is involved in the smile. Also the neck has been tilted sideways, which shows the person is not feeling defensive. What makes this particular smile not look relaxed is the fact that the smile has been overdone. This we can make out by the degree to which the eyes have been closed and the fact that the teeth have been set together. In a genuine smile, the two sets of teeth are rarely touch each other. That makes this smile not relaxed as well, but not as much as the earlier two smiles.
1: This was one which all of us guessed to be the most relaxed smile. We put it up there to make things a bit easier 🙂 No explanation required – lips are relaxed and turned upwards, eyes are narrowed since this smile is very close to the real smile so the sideways muscles of the eyes are pulled as the zygomatic major has been involved in the smile. For this smile to be a true smile, the eyebrows would also slightly be pulled downwards, which one can make out only if baseline behaviour has been observed. So this is still a social smile.
We hope you had a good time participating, and more importantly, understanding how observation of the body should be done to get it right. We again extend gratitude to our friends who very sportingly allowed us to share their pictures.