You might not know it, but a simple smile could be what the person next to you needs in their life.
The power of a smile can influence behavior for the better according to a new study by the University of Bristol in England. The study detailed in a Time article found smiling faces can lower violence or aggression in other people. That's as long as the person views it as a true smile and not as a smirk.
The experiment included two groups one of healthy adults between the ages of 18-30 and another of high-risk youth with 70% of them having criminal records. In both experiments the groups looked at images of happy and angry faces on computers. They were also asked to rate their feelings before being tested. After that, they had to rank the images of faces shown on computers as happy or angry.
The adult group split in half, ended up shifting their opinions of some of the faces they rated earlier as angry to happy after been told some of their choices should have been the opposite. Researchers did this on purpose to have them judge the in-between faces more closely. They were then retested and those who changed their choices as viewing happier faces felt happier compared to those who did not.
The next experiment involved high-risk teenagers from a youth program. They underwent the same testing but reported their levels of aggressive behavior before and also for two weeks after. The teenagers who were trained to interpret ambiguous expressions were significantly less aggressive two weeks later. That's according to the teenagers who reported their feelings and also youth program staff who recorded their observations.
TIME.COM/WFMY NEWS 2