• Enjoying a hobby voted our favourite pleasurable pastime
  • Telling someone you love them or giving them an unexpected call makes us smile more than flowers
  • We’re still smiling despite wearing face masks – and using our eyes to help us


It’s the simple things in life that are keeping us smiling, according to new research by Specsavers[1], with the sound of the doorbell indicating a takeaway or other delivery likely to bring a smile to many of our faces!


Specsavers Smile Study

The Specsavers Smile Study has revealed that spending time with loved ones makes three quarters of us smile more than anything else, and people found that they enjoyed exercise more throughout the pandemic[2] than they did previously.


The study also revealed that receiving a smile – or a smize[3] – from someone else is what makes people smile most at the moment[4]. And despite face masks currently concealing the nation’s smiles, two thirds of us still smile when wearing one, with over half of respondents admitting that they are now expressing themselves more using their eyes because people can’t see their mouths.


Other sounds that make us smile, according to the survey, include a child’s laughter or hearing waves crashing on the shore.


Dr Carlos Crivelli, De Montfort University, Leicester

Dr Carlos Crivelli, a leading psychologist and expert in the science of smiling at De Montfort University in Leicester, has reviewed the survey findings.


‘The science of facial behaviour - why we smile and how we use smiles in social interaction - is fascinating. For example, we smile to bond or affiliate, when we would like to reward others, to reciprocate, or to keep the interaction going,’ explains Dr Crivelli.


‘Specsavers’ Smile Study found that respondents perceive people smiling to be more cooperative (73%), friendlier (82%) and more attractive (74%), and our confidence increases when people smile at us (69%).


‘When you limit the opportunities to interact with others by imposing lockdowns and physical distancing restrictions, you can see the impact that it has on the usual tools that we use to interact. As part of this social interaction toolkit, smiles play an important role. Despite not being able to use smiles due to face masks, a positive outtake from these findings is that over half (58%) reported that they can rely on the upper part of the face to interact with others.’


When it comes to cheering ourselves up, a cuddle from a loved one or a call with a best friend is the best source of comfort (39%). In the absence of visiting friends or going to the pub, 29% of us turn to music and TV, followed by exercise (10%).


Martin and Roman Kemp

Encouraging us to keep on smiling are father and son presenting duo Martin and Roman Kemp, known for cheering up the nation on their new Sunday Best TV show.


Former Spandau Ballet musician and actor, Martin, says: 'Staying in touch and speaking with people who make you smile helps you focus on your happiness and theirs and we all need that right now. A smile is infectious and even though we're all mostly hidden by masks at the moment, you get a rush from smiling that helps boost your spirits. And you can still see a smile in the eyes. They aren’t called the windows of the soul for nothing – they can reveal your feelings, your individuality and your personality.’


Reflecting the survey findings, Martin says there are certain things that are sure to bring a smile to his face: ‘There's so much that makes me smile - good news, seeing other people smile and laugh - and the smell of good food!’


DJ and TV presenter, Roman, says: 'For me, it's watching Arsenal win! Seeing and hearing the crowd cheer, watching someone score, it'll always put a big smile on my face. And I'm so lucky to do a job that means I get to make people smile every morning. You can tell when someone is smiling when they call in, you really can hear it in their voice.


'Working with my dad is a blessing too. We have the same sense of humour and laugh at the same silly things, so being able to spend so much time together over the last few months has been great.'


Martin agrees: 'Yeah, Roman makes me smile and laugh all the time - sometimes for the wrong reasons!


When You’re Smiling, Michael Bublé

The survey was commissioned as part of Specsavers new Something to Smile About multi-channel campaign, which focuses on real people smiling with their eyes to the soundtrack of Michael Bublé singing When You’re Smiling, to celebrate the positivity and joy that a simple smile can bring. For more information visit specsavers.ie/smile-stories.




Other interesting facts to emerge from the Specsavers Smile Survey included:


  1. The sound of children laughing makes us smile the most (56%), while hearing the doorbell with a delivery or takeaway makes nearly a quarter (22%) of people smile
  2. Julia Roberts is considered the warmest celebrity thanks to her smile (24%) with Amy Huberman the warmest Irish celebrity (19%)
  3. The voices of Marty Whelan (19%), Ian Dempsey (18%) and Ryan Tubridy (17%) were considered the smiliest
  4. When it comes to our work life, we smile more than our bosses do at us (44%)
  5. Women smile more than men at babies (37% v 33%), while men smile more than women at someone falling over (15% v 11%)
  6. 41% of people can tell if someone wearing a face mask doesn’t want to talk to them just by looking in their eyes
  7. 58% of people try to express themselves more using their eyes when wearing a face mask
  8. 40% agree that older people smile more than younger people
  9. Local TDs were voted as the least likely to smile at work before the pandemic (35%) and after pandemic (25%)
  10. Hospitality staff were voted as the most likely to smile before the pandemic (69%) and after the pandemic (46%)



Ten facts about smiling


  1. Newborn babies can smile spontaneously as a reflex, but it isn’t until they reach six to eight weeks that they do so in a social way[5]


  1. There are 17 pairs of muscles controlling expression in the human face, plus a singular muscle, the orbicularis oris, a ring that goes entirely around the mouth[6]


  1. There are 19 different types of smile – but only six are for when we’re happy[7]. The rest happen when we are in pain, embarrassed, uncomfortable or even miserable but want to portray something different


  1. Smiling can boost your immune system as it helps us to relax[8]. This can release certain neurotransmitters which can help our immune system function more effectively


  1. Smiling can also help us to de-stress[9]. Studies show that this is because it can help our heart rate return to normal more quickly than when we have a neutral expression


  1. A smile can help you get promoted at work[10] as it can make us appear more confident, courteous and competent


  1. Women tend to smile more than men – but the differences disappear when they are in the same work or social roles[11]


  1.  Our facial expressions can have a small impact on how we feel, so smiling can make us feel happier[12]


  1. Our teeth are important when it comes to smiling. Millennials spend more than any other age group on their teeth – around £750 a year[13]


  1.  If you want to appear more attractive, all you have to do is smile. Studies show that people with happier resting faces appear healthier and more glowing[14]

All Store Information. 


[1]The survey, of 517 people across Ireland conducted by Empathy Research, was commissioned as part of Specsavers new Something to Smile About multi-channel campaign

[2]77% agree that time with family made them smile post 23 March.  Pre the pandemic, 47% strongly agreed it made them smile vs 52% post 23 March 2020 - the only activity that resulted in an uplift in smiling in pandemic times

[3]The term coined for a smile with the eyes from behind a facemask

[4]Top sight that makes us smile post 23 March 2020 is receiving a smile today 75%

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