Image by Getty / Futurism

Wiggle those brows and scrunch that nose, kiddo — it's time to make some friends!

A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports finds that being facially expressive while interacting with others has distinct "social advantages." Or, put simply: expressive people are more likely to be well-liked by those they interact with.

"Our evidence shows that facial expressivity is related to positive social outcomes," study author Eithne Kavanagh, a research fellow at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), where the research was conducted, said in a statement. "It suggests that more expressive people are more successful at attracting social partners and in building relationships."

Being expressive "also could be important in conflict resolution," Kavanagh added.

The study was actually comprised of two separate experiments, deemed "Study 1" and "Study 2."

For Study 1, the NTU researchers acted as participants while recording a series of semi-structured video calls with a total of 52 participants. These conversations were based on everyday social interactions and designed to invoke natural emotional responses — think: happiness, surprise, anger, embarrassment, and more — and behaviors, like listening or being reassuring. According to the study, after these initial, semi-structured calls, the 52 non-researcher participants were asked to separately record themselves while trying to achieve certain social goals like "looking friendly" or"disagreeing without being disliked," among other aims. These clips were then shown to 176 other individuals, who rated the participants in the videos on readability and likeability. The researchers, meanwhile, used a system called Facial Action Coding System (FACS) to measure how much each participant's face was moving during various interactions.

Next, for Study 2, the NTU researchers analyzed a larger dataset of unrehearsed, videoed conversations between 1,456 complete strangers, in which those strangers rated one another again on likeability following their interactions. Then, once again, the researchers used FACS to measure facial movement.

"In our everyday social interactions, our faces, and those of others, are moving," they wrote in the study, adding that "there is a wealth of information that can be exchanged via facial movement, and we use this exchange to navigate varying social landscapes."

Overall, according to the research, study results showed that participants who were the most expressive were rated to have the most readability and to be the most likable, and that both qualities translated into favorable social outcomes. This was even true in negotiation scenarios, so next time you're trying to barter over something, you might want to lose the poker face!

Speaking to Newsweek, the researchers posited that expressiveness may be linked to other personality traits, like outgoingness and — interestingly enough — neuroticism.

"Our research shows that people who are more facially expressive also seem to be more agreeable, extraverted and neurotic," Kavanagh told Newsweek. "We think it's possible that facial expressiveness may be related to the more social nature of these traits; more agreeable and extraverted people are more socially-oriented, and more neurotic people might be more socially anxious... so these people could be using facial expressivity to bond socially with others."

In other words, it could be true that those who lean socially anxious use pronounced expressivity to sugarcoat any unease — which, according to the study, very much seems to work. To that end, the researchers also believe that humans may have evolved to be expressive as a result of positive social outcomes.

So, if you want to work the crowd: smile! Laugh! Scrunch your brows! Shake your head! Open your eyes super wide when you're surprised! According to this research, people will respond to it.

More on psychology: Study Finds Fascinating Link Between First Letter of Your First Name and the Trajectory of Your Life

Share This Article