May 28, 2016

"[I]n countries like Germany, Switzerland, China, and Malaysia, smiling faces were rated as significantly more intelligent than non-smiling people."

"But in Japan, India, Iran, South Korea, and... Russia, the smiling faces were considered significantly less intelligent.... In countries such as India, Argentina, and the Maldives, meanwhile, smiling was associated with dishonesty...."

At the link — to "Why Some Cultures Frown on Smiling/Finally, an explanation for Bitchy Resting Face Nation" in The Atlantic — there are some charts arraying the countries from one extreme to the other.

I was explaining this out loud to Meade, and he sang: "If you smile at me, I will understand/'Cause that is something everybody everywhere except India does in the same language...."


Curious George said...

What do they think of cackling?

bwebster said...

Ok, Meade's response made me laugh out loud, not the least because of the 60s-era post-apocalyptic subtext.

Michael K said...

In an evolutionary sense, smiling probably meant non-aggression but there is also an evolutionary advantage to lying.

It's related to the Hawk-Dove behavior theory.

In a primitive society, Hawks have an advantage as long as they are less than a critical fraction. Once you have all hawks, the cost is too high.

However, if you are a hawk and pretend to be a dove, you have an advantage until the doves figure out that some pretend doves are actually hawks.

Lying works until trust is lost among doves. That is where Trump comes in. Smiling works in high trust societies. We are going from that to low trust, especially with politicians

whswhs said...

I've got to admire a man who can make that joke. . . .

mikee said...

I have resting sour face, the male equivalent of the female resting bitch face, both of which are well known consequences of being serious and thoughtful. I can smile with the best, but my ground state face has a frown.

This (and a bit of gray hair at 42, obviously making me a senior person who knew what was what about everything) helped me in Japan, when I was bored to death in long business meetings. I was obviously being serious while I stared, frowning, at the 102nd through 192nd slide in the endless data presentations to upper management.

Our Japanese business partners, especially the higher level executives, made special efforts to insure I had all the entertainment I could survive, just to make sure I wasn't so disappointed with everything in their country. My coworkers, those smiling, laughing Americans, wondered how I became so well-liked so quickly by the big bosses.

Sour face. I can live with it.

Paddy O said...

If you're smiling and everything is going great, you're smart. If you're smiling and everything is falling apart, you're not so smart.

I wonder if the way a country perceives smiling is a cue to how those in that country perceive the state of things.

Things are going fine in the first set where smiling is approved.
Things aren't going well in the second set.
Corruption is a real problem in the third set.

mockturtle said...

One cultural lesson I learned as a woman was not to smile at a Mexican man I didn't know. It's not always seen as the cordial-but-detached everyday nicety common to our culture.

Michael K said...

I think I'm smiling but my photos always look like I am angry.

It can be useful.

robinintn said...

Count on the Nation to get it wrong. It's Resting Bitch Face.

JPS said...

My favorite comment on this was from Herman Wouk's fictitious Victor Henry, writing a letter home to his wife as an emissary to the Soviet Union in late 1941:

"Russians smile only when they are amused. It makes them seem distant and surly. I guess we strike them as grinning monkeys."

I quoted this line to a couple of Russian friends. First they laughed. Then they thought for a moment and said, That's kind of true.