A Child’s Smile Can Predict Future Marital Success

As a parent, you hope that one day that your child will meet the right guy or gal and “live happily ever after”. What if the way they smile when you say “Cheese!” can help their marital prospects?

According the latest issue of Scientific American Mind, researchers are finding that exuberance and joy in a child’s smile can affect their marital bliss.

“Pictures of grinning kids may reveal more than childhood happiness: a psychological study from DePauw University shows that how intensely people smile in childhood photographs, as indicated by crow’s feet around the eyes, predicts their adult marriage success. According to the research led by Matthew Hertenstein PhD, people whose smiles were weakest in snapshots from childhood through young adulthood were most likely to report being divorced in middle and old age. Among the weakest smilers in college photographs, one in four ended up divorcing, compared with one in 20 of the widest smilers. The same pattern held among even those pictured at an average age of 10.”

“The paper builds on a 2001 study by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, that tracked the well-being and marital satisfaction of women from college through their early 50s. That work found that coeds whose smiles were brightest in their senior yearbook photographs were most likely to be married by their late 20s, least likely to remain single into middle age, and happiest in their marriage; they also scored highest on measures of overall well-being (including psychological and physical difficulties, relationships with others and general self-satisfaction).”

This research makes a whole lot of sense because:

  • One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell discussed “thin slicing” behaviors in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Observing small hints of someone’s behavior or traits can be instinctively predictive of someone emotional disposition and what they are truly thinking. Using our “gut feelings” more often, we are able to rely on our “adaptive unconscious”–a 24/7 mental valet–that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react to a new idea.
  • Just looking at someone’s ability to grin can give us “rapid cognition” about their positive emotions,  how they respond to others, and ultimately ,according to Hertenstein, “making that individual more open and likely to seek out situations conducive to a lasting, happy marriage”.

It’s gratifying to see that science continues to bolster what we’ve known intuitively for many years. Building a child’s ( and even an adult’s) self esteem has a dramatic impact on their future relationship and career success.

It’s a wonderful gift to see a smile. My Flax Dental staff and I have a greater appreciation of the “ripple effect” in helping others Look Better, Feel Better, and Live Longer.

That new smile warms up not only your appearance, but the instant minute by minute perceptions that people have of you. It becomes a window to your soul.

Hope this helps you and others in making all of your or your children’s lives much happier. Feel free to comment and share.

Keep smiling right


Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Posted in: Mouth Body Connection


  1. Sooo true!I put this one on my facebook for all who have young ones to read.

    Comment by Edi Sprouse on September 8, 2009 at 5:59 am

  2. What a difference this information can make for a child!
    More people would love to know this for their children

    Comment by Dr.Flax on September 11, 2009 at 9:37 am

  3. It just proves how much a smile means! Thanks for sharing this.

    Comment by Tracey on September 13, 2009 at 4:44 am

Leave a response


Text message is limited to 160 characters.

  1. Enter your Cell Phone Number, area code first
  2. Enter your text message in the box.
  3. Click "Send Text"
  4. A copy of this text will be sent to the office and to your cell phone. The office's reply will also be sent to your cell phone where you can continue the text conversation.
Note: Mobile message and data rates from your cell phone carrier may apply.Close ClickToCall Button
NagiosCheckValue - Do not remove please