LONDON (Dispatches)-Smiling does not necessarily indicate that we are happy, according to new research.
It is widely believed that smiling means a person is happy, and it usually occurs when they are engaging with another person or group of people. However, a new study at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) and led by body language expert Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology at BSMS, shows this is not always the case.
Dr Witchel claims that the way people often behave during one-to-one Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) is as if they were socially engaged.
His research involved asking 44 participants aged 18-35 to play a geography quiz game consisting of nine difficult questions so that they often got the answer wrong.
Seated participants interacted with a computer alone in a room while their faces were video recorded.
After the quiz, the participants were asked to rate their subjective experience using a range of 12emotions including 'bored', 'interested' and 'frustrated'.
Meanwhile, their spontaneous facial expressions were then computer analysed frame by frame in order to judge how much they were smiling based on a scale of between 0 to 1.
Dr Witchel said: "According to some researchers, a genuine smile reflects the inner state of cheerfulness or amusement.
"However, Behavioural Ecology Theory suggests that all smiles are tools used in social interactions; that theory claims that cheerfulness is neither necessary nor sufficient for smiling.