Smiles in Different Cultures: Do Americans Smile the Most?

There is always a reason to smile!

There is always a reason to smile!

Did you know that blind athletes smile in victory just the same as their seeing counterparts? Although these athletes are born blind, and have never seen a smile, they know how to because smiling is innate. The ability to smile isn’t taught, we were born with it!That said, it is culture, not nature that determines how often we smile and the reasons why we smile. Social conditioning dictates whether we are beaming brightly in our Facebook photo or posing with a stoic smile like Mona Lisa.

When is it Polite to Smile?

Studies are clear about one thing: throughout the world, Americans tend to smile the most! It’s not that other countries don’t have plenty to smile about, it’s that people tend to smile as much as they are conditioned to through socialization and culture. When comparing other countries to our own, it’s found that:
  • North Americans—that’s us—smile big and smile often. We smile when we greet people, when we’re being polite, when we want to show we’re having a great time. The way we smile can even seem exaggerated to people in other countries!
  • People in Asian countries tend to smile less because cultures there tend to contain outward emotional displays. In Japan, for example, people are much more likely to look into the eyes for emotional cues, compared to Americans, who look at the mouth, one study showed.
  • One exception to the above is Thailand—Thai people may smile even more than us! People in Thailand consider smiling appropriate for just about any situation.
  • Russians consider smiling to be poor taste when you don’t have a reason to smile! If you smile out of politeness in Russia, you may be seen as insincere or unwilling to show your true feelings. Instead, Russians reserve smiles for affection with their closest friends and family.
  • Germans tend to think Americans are too quick to smile and won’t return polite smiles. Crack a funny joke, however, and you’re sure to see plenty of genuine smiles.
Wherever you travel, you are bound to run into plenty of genuine, friendly smiles even if you are in a culture that is more reserved than our own.

Why do Americans Smile More?

Sure, it’s part culture and socialization, but as Americans, we are blessed to have access to the most proactive dental care available in the world. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, patients rely on Dr. Roderick Garcia, DMD, to provide them with beautiful, healthy smiles. Whether you need help fixing tooth decay or want veneers for a whiter, brighter smile, Dr. Garcia uses his 30 years of experience to help.Contact us at 505-369-2673 to schedule your appointment. Don’t forget to ask about our November specials on teeth whitening trays and more!

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