We know that happiness is not equal to a mere smile, but a smiling face is still the most well-known representation of happiness. This icon was first designed by commercial artist Harvey Ball in 1963 to boost the abated employee morale that resulted from the merger of The State Mutual Life Assurance Company in Worcester, Massachusetts and the Guarantee Mutual Company in Ohio. The design was printed on buttons, posters, and desk cards, and distributed to employees. Did this visual icon actually help people smile more while doing their work? Well, it is difficult to find out the actual effectiveness of this icon, but apparently it was successful in capturing people's aspirations for good feeling and it continuously gained a wide popularity not only in the US but in many other countries also. Similar to smiley icons, a person's great smile is also an attractive selling point.

Displaying a genuine and authentic smile is especially important for people who need to earn trust from others such as political candidates, or workers who need to induce positive emotions in another person such as flight attendants, nurses, and waiting staff. They often suppress their negative emotions and foster positive ones to be consistent with organizational or occupational display rules. Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociologist, gave a name to this specific role workers have to perform in addition to physical and mental ones: "Emotional Labor". Although there is a difference in the extent, I think lots of American workers perform this emotional labor at their jobs in some way or another.

The secret of genuine and fake smiles is in the eyes, not in the lips. French physician Guillaume Duchenne differentiated a genuine smile from a fake one in the mid-19th century. A genuine smile, so called Duchenne smile, involves contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle (which raises the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi muscle (which raises the cheeks and forms crow's feet around the eyes). Since most people cannot voluntarily contract the outer portion of the orbicularis oculi muslce, Duchenne smile indicate a genuine smile. So far people have not been that sensitive to pick out fake smiles from genuine ones. However, thanks to psychologist Paul Eckman's contribution into reading micro facial expressions, more and more people seem to be good at noticing fake smiles. Within this context, it may be not okay for workers to just display a thin crust of smiles. What kind of services may arise to help people meet this increased behavioral expectation?

Duchenne smile surgery allows people to always make a genuine smile by inserting an artificial muscle that connects the zygomatic major muscle and the orbicularis oculi muscle. As a result, an upward movement of the mouth automatically creates crow's feet around the eyes. Does this sound too bizarre and unlikely to happen? Well, the idea of cosmetic surgery, which is so common these days, was considered too strange until the 1950s.


While scientists were stimulating a patient's nucleus accumbens, they hit upon a "sweet spot" that made her laugh (image D). They believe that the spot may be part of the brain's smile, laugh, and euphoria center. "Credit: Ihtsham Haq, M.D., et al/NeuroImage, March 10, 2010"
Another artificial way of obtaining a genuinely smiling face is through Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation(TMS) or deep brain stimulation (DBS). These devices stimulate the Neucleus Accumbens, a possible smile, laugh and euphoria center in the brain. This spot was discovered by a group of neurosurgeons while testing a deep brain stimulation(DBS) device to a patient suffering from OCD(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The patient laughed when a certain part of the Nucleus Accumbens was stimulated and claimed that she felt like she had won a cruise trip. The use of this technology is currently limited to treat severe mood disorder patients. However, I think it is not just mood disorder patients who would be interested in using this device. If it becomes safe and affordable enough, it may become more widespread like a massage parlor.