Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Old Photos

A pause in my quest to examine my own career change decision-making process (see last few posts).

I was watching Who do you think you are? this evening, with John Hurt. He was talking with his brother about his Great Grandmother. It was fascinating as they speculated on what type of woman she was all form a grainy black and white photo.

I love old photos, and I am coming across a few of them as I slowly piece together my family tree, with my Gran. The one below shows a picture of my Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother and in the middle, in his long baggy shorts, my Grandfather.

I love this photo. They all look happy, and spirited.

Old photos can tell us a surprising amount. In a famous study, researchers at UCalifornia studied 141 class photos from a girls' school yearbook in 1960. They differentiated between 'real' (Duchenne) smiles and the 'fake' smiles like you get on airlines (Pan American smiles).

All but three of the women in the yearbook were smiling, and half were Duchenne smilers. All the women were subsequently contacted at ages 27, 43 and 52 and asked about their marriages and life satisfaction.
Astonishingly, Duchenne smilers were more likely to be happily married, and to report significantly higher levels of life satisfaction than the Pan American smilers.
Something to think about when you look at your own school photos.

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