A recent study by Kelton Research has shown that Americans form shockingly negative first impressions when meeting others with crooked teeth. The in-depth study involved more than 1,000 participants, who were asked to respond to photos of people with crooked and straight teeth, unaware that teeth were the focus of the study. Their answers revealed powerful stigma across all areas of interaction, including business, love, trustworthiness, and success.
“Many people tend to focus on fixing the things about themselves they think will have the biggest impact, often overlooking one of the most impressionable physical attributes like their teeth,” in the words of the senior vice president of business development at Align Technology, Timothy A. Mack. Align Technology is the maker of Invisalign. “We live in a society where looking good heavily impacts how we are perceived. You can say you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but people do it every day.”
Results of the Smile Study
In the press release announcing the results of the study, Dr. Michelle Callahan summarized the smile study’s findings: “Whether we like it or not, we are often judged by our appearance. The results of this Smile Survey prove what I’ve always believed, which is the importance of an attractive, healthy smile, whether you’re socializing and networking face-to-face or virtually. Your smile has more of an effect on what others perceive about you than you think.” Dr. Callahan is a development psychologist in addition to being a coach, relationship expert and well-known TV host.
The dramatic results of the Smile Survey covered the following areas:
- Trust. Of those that participated in the survey, 73% were more willing to trust people with a good smile than someone with a nice outfit, fancy car or good job.
- Personality. People who had straight teeth were 38% more likely to be labeled “smart,” 47% more likely to be described as “healthy,” and 21% more likely to be listed as “happy” by study participants.
- Success. Between those with similar skill sets and experience, people with straight teeth were believed to be 45% more likely to get a job. They were also perceived as “wealthy” and “successful” 58% more frequently.
- First impressions. The survey revealed that 29% of Americans notice teeth first when meeting someone new, and 24% say that this feature is the part of a person’s face that lingers with them the longest after the meeting is finished.
- Love. Based on their pictures, people with crooked teeth were found to be 57% less likely to get a date then people with straight teeth.
- Relationships. Americans were shown to be 38% less likely to go on another date with a person who had crooked teeth. This number was higher than the percent that would not have another date with a person who still lived with their parents. (23%)
- Importance. 57% of those participating said they would rather have a good smile than clear skin. A whopping 87% would give up something significant for one year in exchange for a good smile that lasted the rest of their life. These items included dessert (39%) as well as vacation time (37%).