Have A Happy Face To Be Successful!

A study by psychology researchers at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts and Science has found that putting on a happy face during your teens and early adulthood would be a way to achieve success in later life. Happiness is stereotypically associated with being wealthy and satisfied, and first impressions go on to influence your interactions and the opportunities you get in life. “People,” says the paper by Associate Professor Nicholas Rule and PhD candidate Thora Bjornsdottir in the ‘Journal of Personality and Social Psychology’, “also use those impressions in biased ways, such as judging the rich faces more likely than the poor ones to be hired for a job.” In short, the happier you look in your teens and early adulthood, the better chances of you being hired for a job later!

Interestingly, the researchers found the ability to read a person’s social class only applies to their neutral face and not when people are smiling or expressing emotions as adults. However, the reason why it pays to put up a happy face during your younger years because, says Rule, “Over time, your face comes to permanently reflect and reveal your experiences. Even when we think we’re not expressing something, relics of those emotions are still there.” The results of the study were not affected by the race or gender of the face, or how much time people were given to study them. All of which is consistent with what is known about nonverbal behaviour.

The researchers feel that the study of social classes as an undercurrent in people’s psychology and behaviour is getting more recognition; and with 43 muscles concentrated in a relatively small area, facial cues are one of the most intriguing areas in this field.

“There are neurons in the brain that specialise in facial recognition. The face is the first thing you notice when you look at somebody,” says Rule. “We are sort of hardwired to look for face-like stimuli. And this is something people pick up very quickly. And they are consistent, which is what makes it statistically significant.”

Adds Bjornsdottir, “People are not really aware of what cues they are using when they make these judgments.”

The researchers feel that the next step might be to study older age groups to see if the patterns of facial cues become even more apparent to people over time.