12 Types of Smiles and What They Really Mean


The smile invented by French surgeon Guillaume Duchenne de Boulogne is identifiable. You smile like this when you see a loved one or pet after a long day at work. The zygomatic muscle around the cheeks, which lifts our lips, and the orbicularis oculi muscle, which contracts around our eyes to generate crow's feet, make these smiles recognisable. 

Duchenne Smile

Damp grins obscure the strength of the good emotion that makes individuals smile. Moist smilers raise their cheeks but lower their lips. Interesting grins come from cultural traditions and how different civilizations smile. Japanese people smile with their eyes, which is frowned upon.  

Dampened Smile

A forced smile is used in awkward situations to indicate positive intent. A forced smile is supposed to be seen and may be accentuated and remain longer than a genuine smile, yet it diffuses circumstances. 

Forced Smile

A qualifier smile conveys bad news. Psychologists like psychologist Paul Ekman say the characteristic smile is followed by a head nod and a small down and sideways tilt. The qualifier smile softens terrible news. Depending on the situation, this can be a false nonverbal cue. 

Qualifier Smile 

Ideal commanding smiles are sneers. Scoffing smiles convey contempt. One side of the mouth is frequently elevated in sneers. A dominant grin intimidates others since research reveals that persons who obtain one have higher saliva cortisol levels for 30 minutes after the interaction. 


This smile is certainly something we've all done. A 1995 study found that uncomfortable grins are characterised by a downward head tilt and left eye shift. These smiles usually fade.  

Embarrassed Smile

Oddly, the contempt smile resembles the Duchenne smile. Both involve open-mouthed smiles with upturned corners, but the contempt smile tightens the lips. In cultures where rage is taboo, this smile is frequent. “In Indonesia, anger is not socially acceptable.

Contempt Smile

Polite grins are widespread. When you first meet someone or want to show interest in a long story, you smile like this. Polite smiles are used in the workplace because they convey friendship without the emotional intimacy of a Duchenne smile. 

Polite Smile

Wistful smiles indicate conflicted enjoyment and sadness. This is how you'd smile after losing a loved one and remembering them. According to National Institutes of Health specialists, smiling while grieving may help you recover. 

Wistful Smile

The flirty smile, often known as the Mona Lisa smile, can be used in many ways depending on the flirter's personality. A subtle flirt would keep their lips together and raise an eyebrow, while a coy flirt might smile with their head down. A University of Kansas study discovered that women flirt using head tilts, direct eye contact, and tiny smiles. 

 Flirtatious Smile

The renowned Pan Am flight attendants were trained to grin at every passenger, hence the Pan Am smile. Consider this a false customer service smile. Use a Pan Am smile sparingly, especially if you work in service. Genuine smiles increase tipping, according to a study. 

Pan Am Smile

Celebrities utilise open-mouth smiles to connect with others. This smile is carefree and cheerful, like a chuckle. Paul Ekman, a psychologist, says this smile might convey enjoyment-surprise or exhilaration. A raised brow, dropped jaw, and lifted upper eyelid indicate a pleasurable surprise, according to Ekman.

Open-Mouth Smile

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