Monday, June 21, 2010

What's a Duchenne Smile?

Have you ever looked at someone smiling and thought to yourself that he/she was not really smiling? Well then, you have the makings of a humor detective!! That's right, people can and do smile for no reason. As a matter of fact a French neurologist, Dr Duchenne conducted several hours of research on the difference between a fake smile and a genuine smile by observing patients who had severe brain trauma or strokes. His findings revealed that two parts of the brain control smiling. Voluntary smiles are controlled by the motor cortex. The types of smiling that is intentional and brings good feelings to your body (receiving gifts, getting an A in a course, etc). Smiles that are spontaneous and the result of some emotion (daughter's wedding, surprise birthday party, etc) are controlled by the cingulate cortex. Patients who had a stroke or a brain injury can appreciate a joke and smile if the cingulate cortex wasn't damaged. Dr Guillaneume Duchenne further defined the differences in smiles. A true genuine smile stimulates the zygomatic major muscle and lifts the corners of the mouth in an upward movement and the muscles around the eyes (the orbicularis oculi) to wrinkle up, also known as crow's feet, by pulling on the cheeks. Dr Duchenne noticed that "fake" smiles or smiles not attached to any specific emotion, engages the zygomatic muscle but not the orbicular oculi muscle. This is why true, voluntary and intentional smiles are referred to as Duchenne Smiles.

To test your ability to spot a fake smile or a Duchenne smile cut and paste the url below and go to the website and take the short but very interesting test on smiles. Return back to my blog and let me know how you did. It's only a test but oh so very powerful!!


  1. I am agree with you teacher, this is wonderful information. Our brain is fantastyic and I am going to be more observative when someone smile to me:)

  2. wow how easy you can be fool by a fake or real smile i got 11 out of 20 ill be observing ,when they ask what part of your face you express more i said the eyes n cheeks then i went to look at my self in the mirror it was very interesting.

  3. Spot The Fake Smile
    Yeah!!!!!! My score yeah, oh yeah

    You got 18 out of 20 correct

    Look at the labels below each image to see which smiles are genuine and which are fake.
    Gloria Contreras

  4. WOOP WOOP!!! 19 out of 20! YAY! Very interesting, this whole smiling ordeal. :D

  5. Try having to test 40 people with this test? It's soooo hard! It's my science fair project!

  6. I took the test and got 19 out of 20. I felt confident that I would score well because I've always been able to tell when people are being genuine and when they're being fake. Great way to test your knowledge of genuine and fake smiles!

  7. I took the test I got 13 out 20 correct, I found it to be weird, trying to pick real and fake smiles. sometimes you just don't know

  8. Either I did something wrong, or the test is no longer accessible in its entirety as of today (10/19/15).
    On entering my response to the first smile, and hitting the "next" button, instead of seeing the second smile, I got a 404 (page not found) error message.
    I am not smiling now.