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Lip Service: Smiles in Life, Death, Trust, Lies, Work, Memory, Sex, and Politics Hardcover – August 8, 2011
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“Yale psychology professor Marianne LaFrance draws on the latest research―in fields from biology to anthropology to computer science―in an effort to shed some light on the happy face.”
- O, The Oprah Magazine
“LaFrance’s extensive research, clear and sometimes humorous writing, and interdisciplinary approach make this a very fine book for anyone who smiles (or doesn’t).”
- Publishers Weekly
“LaFrance shows that there is much more to a pair of upturned lips than meets the eye.”
- Scientific American
“A masterly example of social sciences at its best―a look at how researchers do their work, what questions they ask, how answers lead to new questions, and why all of this matters in our everyday lives. . . . LaFrance’s true subject is not simply the smile but its uniquely human double purpose: to convey our feelings―and disguise them.”
- Wall Street Journal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Marianne LaFrance received her PhD from Boston University. She is now a professor at Yale University, and her research has been featured in media outlets such as NPR, the BBC, and the New York Times. She lives in Guilford, Connecticut.
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Update: I recently skimmed the book again, and it makes some really valuable points, so I raised my rating a notch. But I still think the same could have been said with fewer words.
Though she's an academic, Ms. LaFrance never makes one strain to follow, say, overly formal language. I also appreciated her occasional touches of humor. The book cites many, many studies, but always stays lively and never drags on that account. All in all, a most enjoyable read and one I'm sure I'll be returning to again. The title on the paperback edition has been changed to Why Smile: The Science Behind Facial Expressions.
Particular highlights include a chapter "Real Men Don't Smile" which examines women who went to war as men, transgendered persons, and the different musculatures that may account for women's tendency to smile more than men. Throughout the book, the fake, the false, the "snake in thy smile, my dear," the con artists' smiles offer a course useful to anyone trying to learn the ropes of human social interaction.
In all, this book makes compelling reading. Smile for the camera. "Cheese."
Ron Gutman's TED talk said he studied yearbook photos to determine success and baseball cards to research longevity. What is the common denominator? Smiles. Those who smiled in the baseball pic lived to the age of 80 on average. The non-smilers, 72.
I watched this because Ivanka Trump suggested it. It led me to read "Lip Service."
Yearbook photo studies find that women who displayed more intense smiles in their college yearbook were more content with their lives many years later. They had fewer psychological and physical problems and were more satisfied in their marriages.
People who smile draw others to them. The predisposition to be positive leads to more and stronger social bonds, which in turn provides lifelong support.
The face has the only skeletal muscles of the body that are used, not to move ourselves, but to move others.
Brides do it. Teasers do it, salespeople, infants, politicians, flirts, celebs do it.
An article in the British Medical Journal reported that in social networks, happiness extends up to two people beyond the first. When you smile and feel in good spirits, a friend of a friend is slightly more likely to feel in good spirits as well. Three degrees of happiness.
William James went so far as to propose that when we are happy, it is because we are smiling and when we are sad, it is because we are crying. Facial expressions and bodily changes are the emotions, not mere reflections of them.
From another reading: No matter what happens, I shall smile serenely, fatuously. A nuclear reactor melts down in Colorado, and I smile. The Supreme Court abolishes the Bill of Rights, and I smile. Armageddon. Boom…And slightly irradiated…I smile. No matter what the issue, smile.
Roosevelt is said to be the first President to grin. In fact, Calvin Coolidge had such a dour demeanor that his campaign committee brought in Al Jolson to sing and joke so Coolidge might be caught on camera with an actual smile. It worked, but it was a shock to the nation. You do want your commander in chief to be likable. Those who heard Nixon on radio thought he won the Kennedy debate, but those who saw on TV thought Kennedy had. Nixon worried about how to get his smile right. He sent a memo to his chief of staff urging White House staffers to talk up what a warm human being he was. Obama was the first to have been voted by dentists and citizens alike as having the most winning smile. But your smile can be manipulated. Nixon aired a spot on Humphrey juxtaposed with negative images and him smiling with bloodshed in Nam and backwoods poverty and rioting. The desired traits of an elected official are extrovert-ism and trustworthiness.
Any candidate who does not smile four times during a Holiday Inn interview is out. For Greyhound, 5.
The perfect cheerleader is perky, peppy and playful. Smiling is as essential as pom-poms.
Nurses should also focus on warmth. Smiling is apparently as essential as being able to reliably read vital signs. It puts patients at ease, draws them out so vital info can be acquired, enhances compliance with medical advice and overrides anonymity.
Smiling is different in other countries. Japanese emoticons show changes in the characters for the eyes, but leave the mouth unchanged. Japanese emoticon for happy is (^_^) and crying is (;_;). Canada prohibits any trace of a smile in a passport photo.
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