Always smiling doesn’t necessarily indicate that one is happy. Also, it is largely believed that a person is happy when they are engaging with another person or group of people.
According to a recent study done by Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) this is not always the case.
He claims that the way people usually behave during one-to-one-Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) is as if they were socially engaged. The study he undertook involved asking 44 participants belonging to 18-35 a quiz consisting of nine difficult questions and usually they got the answer wrong.
The participants were seated in front of a computer and they interacted with the computer. Their facial expressions were recorded. Their spontaneous facial expressions were computer analyzed frame by frame in order to judge how much they were smiling based on a scale between 0 to 1.
Witchel said, “According to some researchers, a genuine smile reflects the inner state of cheerfulness or amusement.”
“Our study showed that in these Human-Computer Interaction experiments, smiling is not driven by happiness; it is associated with subjective engagement, which acts like a social fuel for smiling, even when socialising with a computer on your own.”
When analyzed, participants did not tend to smile during the period when they were trying to find out the answer for the questions asked.
The participants smiled when the computer game informed them if their answer was correct or wrong. Surprisingly, most of the participants smiled often when they got the answer wrong.