A Smile Really Is Contagious

October 27, 2002
Blog Entry, Brain & Behavior, Health

Scientists in Sweden have figured out why it’s so difficult to keep a straight face if others around you are grinning away. It’s your unconscious mind taking control. The researchers at Uppsala University had volunteers look at pictures of expressionless, happy, and angry faces. In return they were told to adopt blank, happy, or angry expressions. When they had to meet a smile with a frown, or a frown with a smile, they had trouble. Twitching in the subjects’ faces — measured with electronic equipment — indicated they simply didn’t have control of their muscles. It’s believed that there’s a shortcut to the part of the brain that recognizes faces and expressions that bypasses the area responsible for conscious processing.

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39 Responses to A Smile Really Is Contagious

  1. Hlawuleka Malungana April 6, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    I am in Grade 8 and I’m doing a science project on this topic. I am enjoying every minute of it. As coughing is contagious, then according to my experiment smiling is too!!!!!! A friend walked behind me and recorded the results on a notebook. We recorded the number of people who walked passed us, the number of people we smiled at, the number of people who smiled backed and the number of people who didn’t. It was not a surprise that there was not 1 single person didn’t smile back!!! So I proved that SMILING IS CONTAGIOUS!!!!!

  2. lisette December 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Yess…. thx for helping me! This is my project and my friend and I needed the help soo bad CX thxz again! C:

  3. Jessica December 3, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    For those of you looking for a source on this study:
    Sonnby–Borgström, M. (2002), Automatic mimicry reactions as related to differences in emotional empathy. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 43: 433–443.

    I found it in this well sourced article on the effects of smiling:

  4. Christiana October 31, 2012 at 11:00 am #


  5. Rusty Craig October 27, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    It’s true that smile, as well as happiness is contagious. So wear a smile and spread it around. You might just brighten someone’s day.

  6. Anoneymous October 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    This so helped me on my science project. Thanks <333

  7. mr. the munch August 28, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    wow annoying words lol

  8. madster March 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    i’m in 5th grade and i’m doing this!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My friend is going to walk a couple yeard behind me, and she will have a notebook and i will have a notebook. Since we will pass the same people, she will write down how many people smiled at her and i will do the same. and FYI: its already a universal fact that a positive person will attract another positive person.when you smile at someone,you give off positive emotions which pull at the same energies in the reciving person.

  9. outsource web development January 26, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    This has always been assumed but its noce to have it confirmed at least in part.

  10. NIKOLAI January 2, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    LOL :-0

  11. my fav color is sparkles December 15, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    :)me too i am going to video tape myself with my ipad in the mall just walking around with a smile and happy and tape their reactions then display that on my display at the science fair
    p.s i am in 7th grade too:)

  12. The Child December 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    This will help my science fair project a bit, but how do I test this? I’m only in 7th grade!!!!

  13. ssalt November 9, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    this iz meh science fair pro thx for dah info :)

  14. Vicky November 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    I learned this because of this, and this one time my friend had a sticker that said: “My Smile Is Contagious” ‘She then smiled and I smiled. So that proves it IS contagious

  15. Vicky November 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Nice! Now, This is officialy my expirement.

  16. effu October 25, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    interesting name

  17. Penis October 25, 2011 at 11:30 am #


  18. fdvrghuifyhgt October 24, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    osi di


  1. SMILE Your Way to Health! | Pearson Justice Dental - December 4, 2013

    […] Smiles are contagious: It’s not just a saying: smiling really is contagious, scientists say. In a study conducted in Sweden, people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other subjects who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles all on their own. […]

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