When you look at a sea of people, which faces are more likely to stand out? According to a study published in the Journal of Vision, you don’t need to have something tattooed on your face to get someone to notice you. A toothy grin or an angry snarl will do just fine. The exposure of teeth, apparently, has something to do with it.

For the study, researchers asked their participants to look for happy or angry faces in a crowd of neutral expressions. The search turned out to be slow when the emotions were manifested with closed mouths. However, the speed search rate increased when happy and angry faces were expressed with open mouths and visible teeth. Happy faces were reportedly easier to spot between the two.

"The research concerned with the face-in-the-crowd effect essentially deals with the question of how we detect social signals of friendly or unfriendly intent in the human face," says author Gernot Horstmann, PhD, of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Department of Psychology at Bielefeld University, Germany. The discovery is interesting as it sheds light on how humans interact on a base level.

If you want to get noticed, for example, try smiling with your teeth visible. This technique may help you stand out from a whole group of hopeful candidates. Or if you’re trying to catch someone’s attention, go for a toothy grin instead of a shy closed-mouth smile.

(Screencap of Friends with Benefits courtesy of Screen Gems)

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