Matt Case - June 5th, 2024 - 8:29am PDT 

    Study Reveals Top 30 Things That Make Americans Smile

    NEW YORK — Do you smile back when a stranger smiles at you? According to recent research, most people don’t. In an experiment conducted by actress Zara Naeem, only 24 out of 112 people returned her smile during a two-hour period.

    However, there are compelling reasons to return a smile. Psychologist Jo Hemmings explains, “Smiling releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin – hormones that improve our mood and sense of well-being. It also reduces cortisol, our stress hormone, making us feel less anxious and more relaxed.” A genuine smile, known as a Duchenne smile, can even lower blood pressure and boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells.

    In a new survey conducted for National Smile Month, 46% of respondents said that simply having someone smile at them makes them feel happy, and 65% reported that it boosts their mood. This positive feeling lasts for an average of over 13 minutes, making people more likely to be kind to others (37%) and more motivated (19%).

    The survey found that the average person smiles at a stranger five times a week, but 16% admit they rarely or never return a smile. Reasons for not smiling back include not paying attention (33%), being in a rush (20%), fear of looking weird (27%), and embarrassment (14%).

    Top triggers for smiles include:

    • Going on vacation
    • A sunny morning
    • Receiving a kind gesture from a stranger
    • A loved one getting good news
    • Doing something that makes someone else smile or laugh
    • Getting a surprise gift
    • Winning money
    • Getting into bed with freshly washed sheets
    • Seeing an elderly couple holding hands

    The study highlights the simple yet powerful impact of a smile, encouraging more people to share this small gesture of goodwill.