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NEW YORK — Ready to say “cheese”? It turns out most people aren’t. Three in five Americans simply hate how their smile looks in photos.

A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. respondents found that most people base a first impression of someone else on their smile (76%) or eyes (69%), more so than on their clothes (56%) or social media presence (27%).

Online first impressions

smileHowever, people’s online presence can affect how others perceive them. Results show that how people look in their photos and videos (52%), their spelling and grammar (49%), and the types of content they post and share (48%) all influence a first impression.

With so many initial impressions occurring digitally, it’s no wonder that 57 percent have removed old photos of themselves online. According to those polled, however, the average Twitter or Instagram profile photo is six years old.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Spark Aligners, the survey also found that more than two-thirds of Americans have a favorite photo of themselves.

More respondents (71%) prefer this photo because they feel they look their best in it, over the lighting and composition of the image (54%). Three in four Americans add they don’t always smile in photos.

Rather than grin from ear to ear, some will present a poker face (46%), cover their mouth (43%), or make a surprised expression (43%). Men are more likely to prefer framing their profile photos from the waist up (42%), while most women are comfortable with a close-up of just their face (38%).

When asked what social media platforms people feel the most pressure to show off their smile on, Facebook tops the list (53%), with more than twice as many Americans feeling obligated to do so than on LinkedIn (24%).

“Part of the pressure we feel to smile in photos comes from the way others who smile make us feel,” says a spokesperson for Spark Aligners in a statement. “Our data shows that more than two-thirds of people think those who smile are more trustworthy, confident and approachable.”

Making the most of your dating profile

smileFacial expressions can play a big role in the dating realm, too. When using a dating app, the first thing most respondents notice about a profile photo is a person’s smile (32%). In fact, that’s more than twice the number whose initial attention focuses on someone’s body type and posture (15%).

As for the least noticeable features, respondents say they pay little attention to the backdrop or location in the image, the presence of a vehicle, and the person’s clothing. Looking ahead to 2022, three-fifths of survey respondents plan to update their online presence with all-new profile photos.

“People are aware of the external and internal benefits of smiling; seven in 10 said smiling makes them feel less stressed about their day,” the spokesperson adds. “While many of us take the time to pick out an outfit and have a hair care routine, maybe what we all need for an extra confidence boost is just to share our smiles with the world more often.”

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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