There are over 40 kinds of smiles, each conveying a different message unconsciously. You might know few of them but sometimes a facial expression or configuration related to a specific emotion or feeling gets intermixed with another one thus creating confusion or distortion while interpreting overall nonverbal message. We blindly label an intermixed expression or gesture but never investigate what exact message it conveys.


Sad or Happy?
Just like me, before doing a detail analysis, you might have observed an asymmetrical smile on somebody’s face and misinterpreted as an expression of Contempt. I’ve been observing a different kind of smile (or a facial expression) since more than three years in surrounding social environments, photographs, movies, TV Serials and commercials as well.

It caught my attention and I started doing a research about same. It’s an asymmetrical smile but its conveys different emotional message if we consider its cluster – a stimulus, accompanying facial expressions, para linguistics and verbal statements made by individuals.

contemptScorn or Contempt

Unlike facial expression of Contempt in which lips tightly pressed together and both or either side of them is turned slightly upward and pinched deeply inside cheek, this kind of smile adopt
different muscular movement or configuration. Lips are separated from each other and Orbicular Oris muscles (that surrounds our lips) are pulled upwards on either side of the face. Eyebrows are raised sometimes.
Asymmetrical Smile
I call it as a smile of surprise or shock because an individual conveys uncertainty or state of under-confidence about what is being watched, done, said or heard at the given moment. It’s something like person would utter or mumble, “Is it really so?”. What do you think after looking at Cristiano Ronaldo’s photo taken with his partner and russian model – Irina Shayk? Is he really expressing contempt towards her or the person who caught them in camera?
Cristiano has opened lips asymmetrically in response to an unexpected or sudden photo-shoot whereas Irina, being as a model, appears confident and in-control. It clearly appears that Cristiano wasn’t expecting anybody to capture both of them without any prior notice but still his partner faced the camera as if she didn’t have any issue as she does same routinely and professionally.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portuguese footballer, with his partner (Image Courtesy:
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by: Mr. Sachchidanand Swami (Location: Chennai, India)
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