Facial expressions in yearbook photos may forecast whether an individual gets divorced later in life, according to research conducted by DePauw University Psychology Professor Matthew Hertenstein. The research is included in his new book published by Basic Books, The Tell: The Little Clues That Reveal Big Truths About Who We Are.
Hertenstein looked at yearbook and childhood photos and then asked those people whether they had gotten a divorce. It turns out, there’s a correlation between how often people smile and the likelihood they’ll divorce.
“Some people are stoic faces, no smiles at all. Others were smiling huge bright big smiles.” Hertenstein says, “We found that people who smile the least are about five times more likely to obtain divorces at some point in their lives compared to those who smiled the most.”
Hertenstein says other studies support his research in terms of smiling predicting longevity.
“Smiles predict how happy people are later on in life. People who smile in the photographs report less depression, less anxiety, less sadness, and a variety of variables like that.” He says.
But Hertenstein says he doesn’t know the exact link between the emotions displayed in photographs and someone’s later marital status. He suggests smiles could be a reflection of a happier disposition. Or he says it could be that people who listen to the photographer and smile when they are asked may be more obedient. He says both factors contribute to a stable marriage.