I am sure you know that people are attracted more to those who smile than those who do not. But did you know that people are also more likely to remember the names of those who smile than those who do not? Indeed, this is what was found in a 2008 psychological experiment.
Professors Takashi Tsukiura and Roberto Cabeza of the Duke University carried out an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) study to find out how the brain responds to smiling and unsmiling faces. In order to do so, the experimenters monitored the brains of the participants while they were being presented with pictures of individuals, some of whom were smiling and others unsmiling. The pictures were followed by their names, such as “Kristy,” “Amber,” “Nancy,” and so on.
The results of this study were that the subjects’ region of the brain that is associated with reward processing (in psychological jargon ‘orbitofrontal cortices’) was found to be more active when the subjects were learning and recalling the names of smiling individuals than when they were learning and recalling names of unsmiling individuals.
The findings of this study suggest that we are very sensitive to positive social signals. Smiling is a signal of warmness, kindness and friendliness and so it seems that we would be more willing to remember people who smile, in case we interact with them in the future, than those who don’t.
Photo courtesy of Stf.O