What about looking at someone smile makes involuntary smiling of one’s self?



I’ve always been someone to have a serious resting face while doing anything. My day was stressful and long, so I had virtually nothing I could think of to smile about. Once home from work, I turned the tv on for background noise as I cleaned. While I was up doing so, I glanced at the tv and there was a particular scene that made the camera linger on a character smiling, and cause me to involuntary smile until the scene changed. What caused that to happen? I truly caught myself and was sort of shocked afterwards.

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Scientists have discovered what they call “mirror neurons”, which seem to be behind these kinds of sympathetic responses. In essence, they tend to reproduce in you the emotions you perceive in others. They are also what help you to feel empathy and understand other people’s emotions.

Humans are naturally social creatures and we are programmed to live in groups. Because a smile is a sign of companionship, being comfortable, and “I’m not about to attack you and there’s nothing to worry about”, our brain has been wired by evolution to mirror a smile from another human as a way of communicating that we too see no reason to fight or be worried. It helps to keep groups together.