An article on Social Intelligence – Observing Nonverbal Behavior and Understanding Emotions – by Dr. Sandeep Atre.

19th century poet Alfred Tennyson profoundly said “A lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies”. Something similar applies to smiles…


But first, something about babies…

In 1998, Sunday Mirror London reported about a couple whose video recorder got stolen. The recorder had the tape “Molly’s First Smile” in it. Two weeks later, the tape was thrown over the fence in their backyard. Well! Even a thief understands the emotional value of a baby’s first smile for her parents…

Yes! Smile appears on baby’s face at around 5 or 6 weeks. That’s when baby locks eyes and starts to give that angelic expression. As researcher Marianne LaFrance puts it beautifully: “Though parents have the baby, actually, now…the baby has them”.

And the salient characteristic of a baby’s unadulterated smiles is their symmetry. Mostly, they are equally spread on both sides of the face. As an offshoot of this, and confirmed by Ekman & Friesen, false smiles tend to be asymmetrical, generally stronger on left side of the face for a right-handed person.


So, ‘Symmetry is an integral part of most natural things’ – is the second pointer regarding genuineness of smiles. More in my coming blog-posts… :-)

PS: All inputs on observing nonverbal behavior should be applied after establishing the baseline behavior.

Dr. Sandeep Atre

Founder Director, Socialigence – Developing Social Intelligence

Specialized Online Courses & Customized workshops on Observing Nonverbal Behavior and Understanding Emotions – Specialized Online Courses and Customized workshops on Observing Nonverbal Behavior and Understanding Emotions (Now our courses are at a discount – Checkout in the menu)