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Does It Really Take More Muscles To Frown Than To Smile?

While the origins of the phrase is unknown, one thing is certain. It isn’t rooted in science. It actually takes more muscles to smile than to frown. While it’s difficult to determine exactly how many muscles are involved in smiling or frowning — not everyone smiles the same way and uses different types of smiles depending on context — the bare minimum required for a smile is 10 muscles. For a minimal frown, only six muscles are used.

According to Dr. David Song of the University of Chicago Medical Center who recently did a study on the topic, the average frown requires 11 muscles while an average smile requires 12. However, his method of counting the number of muscles used in creating a facial expression does not take into account other variables like energy used by each muscle or the individual variability in a person’s facial muscles. While humans share facial muscles to express emotions, some have more muscles in their face and may use more of them when smiling or frowning.

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