Want a youthful appearance? Then just smile, or so says a new study. In one recent study, people guessed that people who were smiling in photos were younger than those who had neutral or angry expressions. This is another study which adds to the evidence that facial expression has an impact on the age estimates.
The study results are published in Psychology and Aging. “Estimation of age is done based on several types of cues, but in many cases it depends on the facial expressions”, says researcher Manuel C. Voelkle of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. This is very relevant in the present world where people share pictures on social networks without giving much background information. Researchers feel that pictures of happy faces are misleading as they create temporary wrinkles around the mouth and eyes making it difficult to tell the difference between real and artificial wrinkles in a picture. Smiling makes people look more attractive and this makes people look younger.
In this study 154 participants were asked to guess the ages of 171 faces of young, middle-aged, and older men and women, with various expressions portrayed on photographs. The faces on photographs displayed different emotions like anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness, and a neutral expression. The results clearly showed that facial expressions had a big effect on age estimates. When compared to other facial expressions, neutral facial expressions allowed the age to be estimated more or less accurately. The age of smiling faces was underestimated by two years.
The researchers also noted that the age of the person guessing also affected the age estimate. In general people found it hard to estimate the ages of older people. People were better at guessing the age of people of their own age when compared to people of other age groups.