Posted in Psychology & Medicine

Genuine Smile

Guillaume Duchenne, the famous French neurologist of the 19th century, conducted many experiments to study facial expressions. Part of his research involved determining how certain expressions are produced – such as stimulating different muscles with electricity to see what muscle produced what expression. During this research, Duchenne identified that a smile could be divided into two distinct groups.

The first – what he called the “Duchenne smile” – involves a muscle called zygomatic major, which raises the corners of the mouth, and also orbicularis oculi, which raises the cheeks and wrinkles the corners of the eyes. The second (“non-Duchenne smile”) type of smile involves less muscles; more specifically it only uses the zygomatic major muscle.

To better visualise this, think of what a natural, genuine smile looks like – a wide grin on the mouth, lifting of the cheeks and slanting of the eyes. This is a Duchenne smile, as opposed to the forced, non-Duchenne smile you see often in photographs. Duchenne concluded that a Duchenne smile only showed when the person was genuinely experiencing a positive emotion. Non-Duchenne smiles were more associated with polite social behaviour when people were pretending to have a good time.

The easiest way to distinguish the two is to look at the eyes, for a real smile is when the eyes are smiling as well. This is a useful physiological trick to remember when you want to figure out whether someone is smiling because they are genuinely happy, or because they are just trying to be polite. Also, knowing how to smile with your eyes to fake a “genuine” smile can be a handy social skill.

Posted in Psychology & Medicine


Do you want to gain trust and build intimacy with someone? That is easy – all you have to do is recognise and accept their identity. Every person tries to define who they are by building an identity or their “self”. This identity includes their personality, experiences, philosophies and interests. If you wish to have a deep and meaningful conversation, start off with a light conversation to explore the person’s identity. What kinds of films do they like? What leisure activities do they enjoy in their free time? What occupation are they in? If you slowly learn such superficial information, an outline of their identity begins to take place. Also, observe the person’s attitude as they speak and how they respond to certain topics. You will be able to know or at least guess what their interests are.

As the person slowly becomes fond of you through conversation, simply lead the conversation towards their interests that you found out. The person will talk excitedly about their interests. Now, respond accordingly with a smile and a look of interest (better if you are actually interested). A positive conversation has been established. Steer the conversation so that the other person talks as much as possible about their “self”. The person will think that you share their interests, and nothing is as attractive as common interests.

Shall we go one step deeper? Interests give an outline and begin to add colour to the identity, but to recognise their identity as a whole you must gather more specific data. Once a sense of trust and intimacy begins to develop, the conversation can develop into a more personal one. Talk about the person’s past, their philosophies, their dreams, hopes and aspirations. The more intimate information they share with you, the deeper the intimacy becomes and the more you learn about their identity. The important point here is that you not only learn about their identity, but acknowledge it every step of the way. The greatest gesture you can make to another person is accepting them for who they are. If you talk with someone that understands you and accepts you, you will talk as if time does not matter and share your deepest secrets.

On the other hand, if you wish to attack an enemy psychologically, what could you do? As you might have guessed, you should attack their identity. Pull out all of their weaknesses and faults and attack them, while logically disproving their fundamental beliefs and philosophies. Systematically pull apart their psyche and destroy the pride they have for their identity and even the strongest enemy will fall to their knees.