If you perceive that you hold the most authority in a group setting, you’re most likely not going to smile as quickly back to those smiling at you.The interesting thing is that it’s not something you can control, according to a new study conducted by researchers at UCLA.
The researchers found that the smile is beyond our control because it’s something that happens 20 to 30 milliseconds after an incident, such as your reaction to someone smiling at you first.
Withholding your smile longer than this time frame is your way of demonstrating authority or withholding approval against the other person.
On the other hand, smiling quickly back at someone because they’re your boss is also beyond your control. It’s something that just naturally happens.
“Our faces are really emoticons, we broadcast our inner feelings, our emotions,” said Lee Hotz at The Wall Street Journal. “In addition to our emotional lives…our face involuntarily mirrors our sense of other people’s authority, our sense of social status, and in particular, office hierarchy.”
“Depending on how I feel about your status, how you feel about your power over me, we may or may not choose to mirror each other’s smiles.”
Interestingly, one of the researchers Evan Carr told Davell Wilkins at TopNews that powerful people are more likely to smile back quicker at someone who is their subordinate, but slower to do so at someone who they view as on more equal status grounds as them because they are fighting to be the more dominant person in the setting.
“Our interpretation of this is that when you are feeling powerful and see a low-status person, you are almost throwing them a bone, thinking ‘Oh, I should smile at this person because I’m better than them,’ ” Carr said.
The study included around 55 males and females and is the first of its kind. It will be presented in New Orleans later this week.
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