Happiness, smiling and living longer!

Happiness, smiling and living longer!

Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity

Ernest L. Abel, C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, Wayne State University, 275 East Hancock, Detroit, MI 48201 E-mail: eabel@wayne.edu

Emotions affect personalities and life outcomes by influencing how people think, behave, and interact with others (Izard, 1971). People with positive emotions are happier and have more stable personalities, more stable marriages, and better cognitive and interpersonal skills than those with negative emotions, throughout the life span (Harker & Keltner, 2001; Hertenstein, Hansel, Butts, & Hile, 2009).

Facial expressions are a barometer of the emotions (Izard, 1971), and like emotions, they vary in form and intensity. Studies by Ekman, Friesen, and their colleagues (e.g., Ekman & Friesen, 1978; Ekman, Levenson, & Friesen, 1983; Levenson, Ekman, & Friesen, 1990) have shown that it is possible to identify different emotional states from facial expressions.

Previous studies have found that positive emotions, as inferred from smile intensity in childhood photos and college yearbook photos, are correlated with marriage stability and satisfaction (Harker & Keltner, 2001; Hertenstein et al., 2009). The present study is the first to link smile intensity to a biological outcome: longevity.

Little information (other than smile intensity) was available regarding the individuals in the previously mentioned photo studies. In the current study, however, we were able to include many additional factors known to influence longevity because of the group we elected to evaluate. We focused on Major League Baseball (MLB) players because detailed statistics are available for each player (dating back prior to 1900), and because MLB players represent a homogeneous occupational group. We (and other researchers) have used this database to examine numerous factors related to longevity (Abel & Kruger, 2005, 2006, 2007; Kalist & Peng, 2007).

Wow…how amazing is that? Read more about happiness, smiling and living longer – here