All smiles are not created equal.
A study conducted by Dr. Paul Ekman, Psychologist, University of California reveals that there are 18 different kinds of smiles, each using a combination of a slightly different muscles and conveying different messages. Here are the 5 most common types smile and their interpretation.
The Tight-Lipped Smile
When people smile genuinely the lips broadens and there is always a display of teeth. It is an involuntary muscle reflex hardwired into our brains. A person smiling with the lips stretched but without the teeth exposed indicates that he or she is concealing something.
A tight lipped smile is used for masking true emotions and can be an expression of fear, shyness, anger or restraining of thoughts and attitude. It is the type of smile you are most likely to use when meeting new people and greeting strangers.
The Smug Smile
You know that smile of self satisfaction that your douchebag friend gives you when he boasts of landing a date with hot chick at bar; that's the type of smile you would call "The Smug Smile".
A smug smile is an expression of self satisfaction, arrogance, ridicule and a careless attitude. It is the kind of expression that makes you wanna say "Wipe that stupid grin off your face." But interestingly the smug smile can also be sign of humor and playfulness - a way to catch somebody's attention.
The Lopsided Smile
A lopsided smile appears when one side of the lip moves upwards and the other side slants down. It is an expression of mixed emotions. The direction of the slant of the side mouth indicates different things, a downwards slant can be an indication of negative emotions such as sadness and anxiety, whereas an upward tilt may indicate that person is neither non-threatening nor angry.
The lopsided smile can also be a sign of approval to a certain extent while it can also convey the message of “better not”. Overall, the lopsided smile signals different kinds of messages ranging from anger, sarcasm or embarrassment to irony.
The Forced Smile
Imagine you are in a meeting and your boss in having a joke at your expense and you think it’s not funny but you need to smile out of professional courtesy; that’s when you sport the forced smile.
Faking a smile to convince someone that we are happy requires more than pulling back the lips and showing our teeth, if the eyes are not engaged with mouth and it appears dull or listless, it easily give away the fake smile. The forced smile gives out the impression that we are not being truthful and it may evoke a response of dislike and damage social bonding.
The Genuine Smile
A genuine smile appears only when is a person is truly amused (think of the last time you smiled at a good joke). It is an expression of joy and pleasure. It is an honest smile and cannot be easily faked since the muscles in our face are out of our conscious control.
A genuine smile appears primarily because of the action of two muscles – the zygomaticus major, which stretches from the corner of the mouth to the cheekbone, and the orbicularis oculi ( the skin around the eyes). You can spot a genuine smile when the skin around the eyes crinkles up along with the stretching of the lips and a display of the teeth.