The insincere smile… buyer beware

As well documented, a real smile is very hard to fake.  A few key points about a genuine smile, also known as a “Duchenne Smile” after Guillaume Duchenne, a french neurologist.  True smiles effect the eyes.  The lines at the corner of the eyes, “crow’s feet”, should be visible, but the lower eyelids should be pushed up in half moon shapes.  The eyes will squint.  There should be no tension in the forehead and generally you should see only the upper teeth. Of note, this can vary with culture.  Some studies show that in the United Kingdom there is a tendency to show more lower teeth than Americans do when smiling.


While there are many fake or social smiles, we are going to take a look at the insincere smile. The insincere smile is displayed by the amount of wrinkling in the forehead caused by the lateral raising of the brows and often you will see oblique eyebrows.  If you know someone who is consistently displaying the insincere smile, keep you distance.  If you do it- stop. Let’s look a few examples.  What better place to find insincerity than politicians?


Here, you can see Paul Ryan’s eyebrows raised, forcing wrinkles in the forehead.  Surprisingly, he is not genuinely happy with Joe Biden.


Here, Anthony Weiner displays everything you don’t want to see in a smile- lower teeth, oblique eyebrows, forehead wrinkles and no partial eye closure (squint).


In this photo of Ted Cruz, it is not hard to see that he is not truly happy.  Notice the oblique eyebrows.

Keep in mind, that this expression is not uncommon and we all do it from time to time.  Also of note, the faster a smile onsets and disappears, the more likely it is fake.  Real smiles are usually slower. The real problem lies in the frequency and context.  If you are a sales professional, don’t do this.  If you are a customer and your sales professional displays this false smile- don’t buy.


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