Can a new smile make you appear more successful and intelligent?

May 25, 2007
Social psychologist explores the link in a study on behalf of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

Previous consumer studies have proved that a beautiful smile will make you more attractive. But according to research conducted by Beall Research & Training of Chicago, a new smile will make you appear more intelligent, interesting, successful, and wealthy to others as well.

Dr. Anne Beall, a social psychologist and market research professional, carried out the independent study on behalf of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Pictures of eight individuals were shown to 528 Americans, a statistically valid cross section of the population. The respondents were asked to quickly judge the eight people as to how attractive, intelligent, happy, successful in their career, friendly, interesting, kind, wealthy, popular with the opposite sex, and sensitive to other people they were.

Two sets of photos were created, with each set showing four individuals before undergoing cosmetic dentistry, and four after treatment. Half the respondents viewed set A, the other half set B. The eight subjects viewed by respondents were evenly divided by gender. Two had mild improvements through cosmetic dentistry, two had moderate improvements, and four had major improvements to their smiles, to give a wide range for respondents to view. None, however, had visibly rotten teeth, missing teeth, or catastrophically bad dental health in the "before" shots. Respondents were not told that they were looking at dentistry, but were asked to make snap judgments rating each person for the 10 characteristics, on a scale of one to 10, with one being "not at all" and 10 being "extremely."

The results indicated that an attractive smile does have wide-ranging benefits (see chart above)

While the change was most dramatic for Attractive, Popular with the opposite sex, Wealthy, and Successful in their career, the change was statistically significant in all areas.

"Based on a lot of interaction with happy patients, we were expecting this type of difference in attractiveness and popularity with the opposite sex," said Dr. Marty Zase, president of AACD, "but to have large gains in how successful, intelligent, interesting, and wealthy patients appeared after cosmetic dentistry caught even us by surprise. We've been telling people that a beautiful smile was a great investment in their futures. Now we have independent evidence."