Monday, June 15, 2009

Big Smilers Stay Married More Often

Researchers from DePaw University found that how much people smile in old yearbook photographs predicts how likely they are to stay married. The first study looked at old college yearbook photos and rated smile intensity from 1-10. The scoring was based on the strength of the muscles that pull up on the mouth and that create wrinkles around the eyes.

The researchers found that none of the people in the top 10 of smile strength had divorced, while 4 in 10 of those in the bottom 10% of smile strength had a marriage that ended.

They did a second study where they asked people over the age of 65 to show pictures from their childhood. The average age in the pictures was 10 years old. Again, the researchers found that only 11% of the biggest smilers had divorced, while 31% of the frowners had ended at least one marriage.

Why would this be? Matthew Hertenstein, a psychologist who led the study proposes several possible explanations:

• It could be that smiling represents a “positive disposition towards life.”

• Perhaps smiling people attract other happy people and two happier people are more likely to have a long-lasting marriage.

• Maybe people who smile more often attract more friends and a larger support network that makes it more likely they will keep a marriage healthier.

• Or maybe it’s just that people who smile for a picture when they are told to say “cheese” have more compliant personalities that might make marriage easier.

Whatever the reason, if you are planning to get married, you might want to see some old childhood photos before you buy the ring!