Say Cheese! New Research Indicates Yearbook Photos May Hold Clue To Divorce Risk :: Separation and Divorce Lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina

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Though it may sound bizarre, researchers with DePauw University say that it turns out a person’s yearbook photos might have some predictive ability when it comes to that person’s risk of divorcing later in life. The claim appears in DePauw psychology professor Matthew Hertenstein’s new book called The Tell: The Little Clues That Reveal Big Truths About Who We Are.

SLR Camera Charlotte Divorce Lawyer North Carolina Family Law Attorney.jpgIn his book, Hertenstein explores a 2009 study that he conducted which found that people who smiled more intensely were more likely to have longer lasting marriages than those who smiled meekly or not at all. Hertenstein said that the photographs could be from as far back as elementary school, but that they still had an ability to predict a person’s marital longevity.

Hertenstein conducted his research by having a team of psychology students examine several hundred college yearbook photographs and rate how intensely each person smiled. Subjects who received the higher overall smile intensity ratings were those that Hertenstein said activated two important facial muscles used for smiling: the muscles that are used to elevate the cheeks and the muscles that make the eyes smile, known as the orbicularis oculi muscles.

The psychology students then followed up with the yearbook subjects and asked them a range of questions about their married life. The subjects ranged in age from their mid-20s to late-80s. The results were surprising in that a correlation was found between those who smiled more and their chance of remaining married. According to the data, those who smiled the least in their yearbook photos were five times more likely to divorce at some point in their lives when compared to those who smiled the most intensely.

Though Hertenstein identified the correlation, he admits that he is not positive about why the correlation exists. One theory advanced by his research team is that the people who smile the most in photographs are displaying a tendency to follow the order to smile given by the photographer. This tendency towards obedience may be the glue that holds some marriages together.

Another theory, one that Hertenstein says is more universally embraced, is that the people who smile the most broadly in photographs tend to also have a more positive disposition towards life and often a more extensive and supportive social network. When these people encounter rough patches in life and in marriage they are more likely to survive and weather the storm.

If you find yourself facing a complicated family matter then you need the help of experienced family law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce.

About the Author:

ARNOLD&SMITH_243 3.jpgMatthew Arnold is a Managing Member with Arnold & Smith, PLLC where he focuses his practice on most aspects of Family law including: divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution. Mr. Arnold is an experienced trial attorney who has tried jury and bench trials in both North Carolina District Court and North Carolina Superior Court.

Mr. Arnold grew up in Charlotte, graduating from Providence Senior High School and continued his education at Belmont Abbey College on a basketball scholarship. After graduating cum laude he attended law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship. In his spare time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time on the North Carolina Coast with his wife and three young children: two daughters and one son.


“Your Yearbook Photo May Predict Your Likelihood Of Divorce,” published at

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