Findings Indicate 76 Percent of People Base First Impressions on One’s Smile yet Most People are Unhappy with their Smile; Share Desire to Shed “Old Images” in Favor of a New Look in 2022
BREA, CALIF. (March. 24, 2022) – From hair and skin to clothes and shoes, one’s appearance is a constant trigger of snap judgments. Whether interviewing for a job or looking to make a good first impression online, a new national survey proves that even the alignment of teeth is a catalyst for assumptions regarding confidence, approachability and date-worthiness.
According to more than two-thirds (68%) of Americans, people who smile are more trustworthy, confident, and approachable, and 76% admit a smile is the #1 physical trait to make a first impression of others. Yet despite understanding how important a smile is to perceived trustworthiness and first impressions, most Americans (three in five) “usually hate how their smile looks” in photos. Some 40% say they do not always smile in photos, but instead, make facial expressions such a poker face, frown, surprised face, kissing pucker face, or hide behind a mask to avoid smiling. And when asked if they could benefit from teeth straightening treatment, a surprising 60% of adults answered yes, with 70% believing it would improve their self-esteem.
“Whether we like it or not, we are often judged by our appearance,” said Sheila Tan, Vice President, Global Marketing & Clinical Education for Spark™ Clear Aligners. “The results of this Impression Evolution 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.”
Given the emphasis placed on straight teeth, it’s no wonder that the emergence of clear aligners, such as the new Spark Aligner System, has become a popular way for adults and kids to straighten their teeth. Clear aligners such as Spark straighten teeth without most people noticing, they don’t disrupt people’s busy lifestyles and maintaining good dental and oral hygiene is much easier because they are removable.
The national, online survey of 2,000 Americans 18+ conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Spark Aligners, reinforced the effects of crooked teeth on one’s social life and how they are perceived by others, including1:
2022: The Year of the Image Makeover
As we start the new year, three-fifths (62%) of survey respondents plan to update their online presence with new photos. Changing their facial expression or smile are the two primary reasons, with more than 37% citing those over quality, location or clothing changes. More than half (57%) of survey respondents admitted to taking down previously posted photos.
Smile Confidence Impacts Online Behavior
In a world dominated by social media, survey respondents cited they feel most pressured to present a good smile on Facebook (53%) and Instagram (41%) over other social platforms, ranking a smile more than twice as important than as on professional social media site, LinkedIn (24%).
They also cited a smile as the leading feature to judge a prospective date’s profile photo while using a dating app, more than twice as important as looking at a person’s body type to make a summation (32% versus 15%).
Instead of smiling in online photos, survey respondents said they do other things with their mouths, including:
- Making a poker face (46%)
- Frowning (41%)
- Making a surprised face (43%)
- Making a kissing/pucker face (38%)
- Hiding behind a mask (31%)
“In an era when 82% of Americans have an online presence driven by selfies and other pictures of themselves, it’s unfortunate to see how many people are so dissatisfied with their smile compared to the perceived value of having an approachable, confident smile on- and offline,” said Sheila Tan, Vice President, Global Marketing & Clinical Education for Spark™ Clear Aligners. “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. The good news is a beautiful, trust-building smile is attainable at every age, thanks to newer, more comfortable and discreet treatments such as clear aligners for youth and adults. And with nearly two in three Americans planning to update their online presence in 2022, it’s a good time to begin with the real-world presence of one’s smile. Everyone deserves to have a great smile and be comfortable showing it.”
Online First Impressions
When making first impressions from social media photos, survey respondents ranked a smile the #1 physical trait (76%), significantly higher than the next highly ranked traits of eyes (69%), clothing (56%) and hair (51%). In addition to making judgements about others from their photos and their smiles online, survey respondents also cite other ways they size up others and create first impressions:
- The quality of their photos/videos (46%)
- Who else in is their photos (44%)
- The types of content posted (48%)
- Spelling / grammar used in posts (49%)
Presenting a Not-so-Current Representation of Yourself
Despite unhappiness with their own pictures, two-thirds of Americans have one picture with which they are most comfortable. Most (71%) prefer this photo because they feel they look their best in it, rather than due to lighting or composition of the image (54%). But despite unease with their self-image in photos, Americans are not updating their profile photos as frequently as you’d think. According to those polled, the average Instagram, Facebook and Twitter photo is six years old. Approximately 25% of respondents admitted they had profile photos that were as old as 10 years.1
Details of the ‘Impression Evolution’ Perception study can be downloaded here.
OnePoll is a survey-led marketing research company founded in 2002 specializing in online and mobile polling. Based in London, OnePoll has been delivering insights, opinions and data analysis to thousands of companies for two decades. OnePoll researchers develop custom surveys and work with a proprietary database (panel) of global respondents. OnePoll researchers adhere to ethical practice guidelines and are members of AAPOR, ESOMAR and MRS.
About the Spark™ Clear Aligner System
Spark™ Aligners are manufactured by Ormco™, a global leader in innovative orthodontics products, with 60 years of orthodontics expertise, R&D and high manufacturing standards. Ormco has helped doctors create more than 20 million smiles in more than 130 countries. Spark Aligners offer the latest advancements in clear aligners and a better patient experience. Trusted by orthodontists worldwide, Spark Aligners are clearer, more comfortable and stain less than the leading aligner brand. Spark Aligners are made with TruGEN™ material, which is designed to provide more efficient and effective tooth movement, compared to the leading aligner brand. Spark Aligners are loved by patients: 100 percent of Spark patients surveyed would recommend Spark Clear Aligners to a friend.** For more information about Spark Aligners, visit www.sparkaligners.com.
(**Data on file at Ormco™)
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