The Smile, A Predictor of Marriage Success, Study Shows

Filed under: Divorce & Custody, In The News, Weird But True, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

Smile Predicts Marriage Success

A child who smiles in his class picture is more likely to have a happy marriage. Credit: PictureQuest

Say cheese! Kids with big smiles on class-picture day are more likely to have a happy and successful marriage.

A DePauw University study shows that kids with weak smiles in childhood photographs are most likely to experience divorce and unhappy marriages in their middle age, according to a story in Scientific American.

Conversely, kids with big grins, as indicated by the crow's feet around their eyes, experience a divorce rate of only one in 20.

The pattern holds well into their early 20s, according to the research: Those who display weak smiles from the age of 10 all the way through college had a one-in-four rate of divorce. The study builds on research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, that followed young women from college life through middle age.

The Berkeley study showed that female college students whose smiles were the widest in their senior yearbook photos were more likely to be married by their late 20s. It also found that they scored the highest for overall well-being, which includes factors like relationships with others, general self-satisfaction, and physical or psychological difficulties.

Never fear, sour puss -- Matthew Hertenstein, the DePauw psychologist who led the new study, told Scientific American that there may be a more "cynical" reason why Grinning Gertie has a happier marriage. It could be that people with big, cheesy smiles are just trying to put on a brave face.

"Maybe people who look happier in photos show a social face to others," he told the magazine. "Those may be the same people who are likely to put up with partners because they don't want to appear unhappy."

Did you smile big in your school pictures? Does your child?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.