Just smile to look cool

Science & Technology

If you thought your attitude, your social standing or clothes made you look cool then you are wrong. It is your smile that does the trick. A research conducted recently in University of Arizona has found out the difference in being seen as cool or not can be found in something as simple as a smile.

Assistant professor of marketing, Caleb Warren, in UA’s Eller College of Management, spent his career trying to find an answer to the question: What makes things and people cool? When Warren started his research, the general assumption of becoming or looking cool was being rebellious or different. And to a certain extent, Warren’s early research proved the theory true. Second most common answer was that people become cool by being indifferent and not showing their emotions.

In fact, rapper Kanye West told media once that he doesn’t smile for photos as “it just wouldn’t look as cool”. Academics have written the reason Dean became cool was because he didn’t smile but was it true? In order to test this theory, Warren and his co-authors, Todd Pezzuti from University of Chile and Shruti Koley from Texas A&M University, created several ads. The same endorser was depicted twice, once with a smile and once without and people were asked to rate how cool or uncool they thought the endorser was.

“We found the endorser seemed less cool when they were inexpressive compared to when they smiled,” Warren said of the ads that included amateur and professional models, star athlete Michael Jordan and Dean. “My favourite one was even James Dean, who people have said became cool by being inexpressive, became less cool when he was inexpressive than when he smiled.”

Researchers asked people how they felt about the brand being represented. In each case, people liked the brand less when they thought the endorser was less cool. The only time being inexpressive was deemed more cool, according to the research, was in a hypercompetitive situation. When presented with an announcement of a news conference between two mixed martial arts competitors, respondents said the inexpressive fighter was more cool than his smiling counterpart.

Across the board, the study showed that the person who smiled seemed more genuine and likable than the person who was inexpressive. The results have important implications for companies marketing a brand, as well as for anyone who wants to be seen as cool.

“If you’re being photographed, whether it’s on the cover of a magazine or for a Facebook post, you should probably be smiling rather than being inexpressive,” Warren advised. “Because most people don’t think that being inexpressive is cool.”

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