Топики (тексты) английские - American Smile

Понедельник, Февраль 23, 2009 16:14

It’s interesting to know that one can tell where someone is from just from their smile. One researcher in America believes he really can. Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, carried out an extensive study into the 43 facial muscles that are used when making a smile. One of his conclusions was that the smile of people who live in Europe is more sincere and genuine than the smiles of Americans. Mr. Keltner was successful in identifying an American or any other smile when asked to identify which side of the Atlantic Ocean someone was from, just by looking at a photograph. His conclusion was that the average American smile is less expressive because the eye muscles are not part of the smile. Considering this fact, one can immediately start thinking that American smile is not a sincere one, because it’s not reflected in a person’s eyes. Is it really like that? Is the average American smile just a respondent to external stimuli? Does American smile mean anything at all?In the beginning it will be logical to answer the question “Why do we generally smile?” There are numerous reasons why people smile. They smile out of joy, out of pride, out of embarrassment, and out of contempt. They smile out of politeness, out of courtesy, out of passion, and out of sympathy. Sometimes they smile to show their emotion, and sometimes they smile to hide they true feelings. And, on my point of view, how, when and why people smile usually depends on culture. Different cultures have their own “smiling codes”. In American culture positive feelings are very important. This culture fosters and encourages cheerfulness. It could be seen first and foremost in the American most common mottos: “Cheer up, things could be worse”, “Smile, look on the bright side!” This cheerfulness is inculcated in a person from birth. American parents usually say to their toddlers: „Smile! Look cheerful when you go out in public!” So these children grow up into “automatic smilers”.

In American culture it’s not only cheerfulness that is cultivated in people, there’s also constant pursuit for happiness. Even The Declaration of Independence proclaims that the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right. Americans say that failing to be happy implies that one is shirking one’s responsibility and failing to realize the American cultural mandate. No wonder that the percentage of Americans who report that they are happy is 80 percent. And it’s easy to guess that American smile is a prototypical expression of happiness.

American smile also conveys friendliness. There is a strong preference to preserve the appearance of cordiality and friendliness, even when strong differences of opinion are present. Nice words and polite smiles are expected as something natural during everyday social interaction.

Very often one statement can be heard: “The American smile is something you like or dislike”. And a lot of people will agree with this statement, because, if a person understands the nature of American smile he gets used to it and then he even starts liking it. Most people who go to the USA and then come back to their own countries admit that they miss this American smile, especially when they go shopping, when they are at work, when they use public conveyances and so on, and so forth. But, on the other hand, many people say that Americans smile neither from courtesy, nor from an effort to charm. They say that this smile signifies only the need to smile. And as French philosopher Jean Baudrillard says: “it continues to float on faces long after all emotion has disappeared. A smile available at any moment, but half-scared to exist, to give itself away. The smile of immunity, the smile of advertising: This country is good. I am good. We are the best…” And these features of American smile can really irritate somebody.

Many people find this smile insincere, they can’t get used to it and as a result they don’t like it. The thing is that an “everyday smilingness” is not characteristic of communicative behavior of many cultures, especially Slavic ones. Russian writers have often pointed out the difference between Russian and American smiles, characterizing the American smile as strange and artificial for the Russian. Satirist M. Zadornov called the American smile “chronic,” and M. Zhvanetskiy wrote that Americans smile like they were plugged into an electrical outlet. M. Gorky wrote that the thing you see most of all in an American face is their teeth. But one should remember that in American communicative behavior the smile is first and foremost a sign of politeness. In the USA a smile while greeting someone first of all means that the greeting is polite. The more a person smiles during his greeting, and the more friendly he is at that moment, the more politeness his behavior demonstrates to the person he is talking to. Smiling at each other during a conversation signals mutual politeness, and it signals that the participants are politely listening to each other. The smile in public service in the USA also fulfills the function of demonstrating politeness more than anything else. And you can find such smiles not only in the USA. For example, the Chinese proverb, “He who cannot smile, cannot open the shop.” In Japan women at the entrance to the escalator in large stores smile and bow to each customer who steps on the escalator: 2,500 smiles and bows a day.

What is more, American psychologists report that a polite smile in the USA has also the sense of protecting the addressee from sadness arising from hearing what is being said. But in Slavic communicative behavior a smile “for politeness” or “out of politeness” is simply not the norm. But, from my point of view, if something is not the norm in our culture it doesn’t mean that it has no right to exist or that it is not normal or it’s unnatural. And I wouldn’t say that American smile is such an insincere one. I would only say that Americans are just less tempted to mask their positive feelings and they are more tempted to mask their negative feelings for the sake of those around one.

It depends on a person whether to consider American smile a sincere or insincere one. A lot depends on personal background, experience and mentality. And at the same time I hope that after reading my article one will be able to think over this question more thoroughly and will be able to understand not only the nature of American smile but also find out more about American mentality.

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Один ответ на “Топики (тексты) английские - American Smile”

  1. inheft

    Февраль 25th, 2009 0:25

    Неплохой пост, ничего ли??него.

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