Masks won’t keep us from smiling says new research

IT’S the simple things in life that are keeping us smiling, according to new research by Specsavers, with the sound of children laughing or hearing a glass of wine being poured after a long day likely to bring a smile to our faces!
Martin and Roman KempMartin and Roman Kemp
Martin and Roman Kemp

The Specsavers Smile Study has revealed that people in Northern Ireland are more likely than those in any other UK region to smile at strangers - both pre- and still since the pandemic began. We also think we smile more than the average UK citizen, and don’t believe that a mask prevents us from keeping this up.

The study also revealed that receiving a smile – or a smize[2] – from someone else boosts our mood at the moment.

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And despite face masks currently concealing the nation’s smiles, 61% of us still smile when wearing one and almost 80% believe it improves their own mood. However, almost half of respondents did admit that they are now trying to express themselves more using their eyes because people can’t see their mouths.

Dr Carlos Crivelli, a leading psychologist and expert in the science of smiling at De Montfort University in Leicester, has reviewed the survey findings.

“The science of facial behaviour - why we smile and how we use smiles in social interaction - is fascinating. For example, we smile to bond or affiliate, when we would like to reward others, to reciprocate, or to keep the interaction going,” explained Dr Crivelli.

“Specsavers’ Smile Study found that respondents from NI believe people smiling makes a positive first impression (89%). Smiling people are also perceived to be more friendly (83%), more cooperative (74%) and we find we interact more with those who smile at us (77%).

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“When you limit the opportunities to interact with others by imposing lockdowns and physical distancing restrictions, you can see the impact that it has on the usual tools that we use to interact. As part of this social interaction toolkit, smiles play an important role. Despite not being able to use smiles due to face masks, a positive outtake from these findings is that most people (80%) reported that they can rely on the upper part of the face to interact with others.”

While smiling is infectious, other small acts of kindness go a long way. The research revealed money and time are not essential to make someone smile - we are more likely to offer compliments or praise (84%), rather than giving flowers (65%) or gifts (78%). Almost a quarter of us also admit that the most recent thing we have done to make someone else smile is to tell them that we love them, or simply given them a call.

When it comes to cheering ourselves up, in the absence of visiting friends or going to the pub, 63% of us eat or drink something we really enjoy first, followed by watching a comedy show (53%) and listening to music (50%). Half of us, though, would go and get a hug from a friend or family member if we could.

Known for cheering up the nation on their new Sunday Best TV show are campaign ambassadors, father and son presenting duo Martin and Roman Kemp.

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Former Spandau Ballet musician and actor, Martin, continued: “There’s so much that makes me smile. Good news, seeing other people smile and laugh - and the smell of good food!

“Staying in touch and speaking with people who make you smile helps you focus on your happiness and theirs and we all need that right now.”

DJ and TV presenter, Roman, says: “For me - it’s watching Arsenal win! Seeing and hearing the crowd cheer, watching someone score. It’ll always put big smile on my face.

“And I’m so lucky to do a job that means I have get to make people smile every morning. You can tell when someone is smiling when they call in, you really can hear it in their voice.

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“Working with my dad is a blessing too. We have the same sense of humor and laugh at the same silly things so being able to spend so much time together over the last few months has been great.”

Martin added: “Yeah I agree. Roman makes me smile and laugh all the time - sometimes for the wrong reasons!

“A smile is infectious and even though we’re all mostly hidden by masks at the moment, you get a rush from smiling that helps boost your spirits.

“And you can still see a smile in the eyes. They aren’t called the windows of the soul for nothing – they can reveal your feelings, your individuality and your personality.”

A message from the Editor:

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