Wrinkles aren’t generally considered to be a good thing, and there are tons of articles on the Internet dedicated to the fine art of making them disappear. But according to a new study, wrinkles serve a purpose in how we’re perceived by others—at least when it comes to the creases around your eyes.
In the study, which was published in the in the journal Emotion, researchers sought to test how this eye-wrinkling feature, which is called the Duchenne marker, impacted how sincere we believe someone’s emotions to be. And good news for older people: Eye wrinkles make you appear more sincere and trustworthy.
Using a method called visual rivalry, scientists showed study participants photos with and without the Duchenne marker, and found that those with the eye-wrinkling feature registered as more important in the brain.
They then asked participants to rate the photos on a scale of intensity and sincerity and found that, across the board, those who had the Duchenne marker appeared more authentic in their smiles and frowns.
“These findings provide evidence of a potential universal language for reading emotions. In other words, a given facial action may have a single role across multiple facial expressions—especially if that facial action shapes your social interactions. For example, knowing if a stranger’s smile is genuine and whether that person can be trusted, warns you whether you should evade or not,” Nour Malek, a psychology professor at McGill University in Canada and the paper’s first author, said.
The study provides insight into how someone’s facial expressions convey trustworthiness and sincerity.
“Since Darwin, scientists have wondered if there is a language of facial expression. This research suggests one key to this language is constriction of the eyes,” Daniel Messinger, a psychology professor at the University of Miami and another author of the study, said.
It also invites further research into how people perceive our emotions, especially when it comes to those who have trouble reading them.
“When you have social interactions you need to perceive whether a person is sincere or not,” Dr. Julio Martinez-Trujillo, a scientist at the University of Western Ontario’s Brain and Mind Institute and lead author of the study, said. “So my interest now is, what will be the results if we do this same test with people with autism spectrum disorder. They often have trouble reading out emotions from other people, so we wonder if that might have to do with their ability to read this marker for sincerity.”
To find out more about the judgements that people make about your based purely on your facial features, check out Here’s Why Women Are Attracted to Square-Jawed Men.
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