It′s Bad to Smile, German Psychologist Says | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 13.05.2008

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It's Bad to Smile, German Psychologist Says

Germans are not exactly known for their overt friendliness, especially when it comes to the service sector. Now, one psychologist has found out that they're really just trying to protect their health by keeping smiles.

A smiling mouth

Smiling can cause serious harm to your health

Enter an American supermarket on a Tuesday and you'll probably get asked how your week's been going by an up-beat cashier with a big smile on his face.

In Germany, that's not unheard of. But it's certainly the exception to the rule. Germans don't necessarily seem to believe that friendliness is an integral part of good service: Handing over the goods in exchange for money is more than enough.

George W. Bush with his lips pressed tight together

He seems to have gotten wind of Zapf's revelations

Foreigners have so far accepted this as a -- somewhat unpleasant -- aspect of the German psyche. But Dieter Zapf, a psychologist at Frankfurt University, says that the lack of smiles is really just a protective measure.

According to a report in Germany's Apotheken Umschau, or Pharmacy Watch, a free magazine handed out by drug stores that's highly popular among elderly ladies, "professional smilers" such as flight attendants and store assistants are more prone to suffer from stress, depression, high blood pressure, or that mother of German diseases, cardiovascular problems.

People who are forced to smile during work should therefore withdraw to a quiet corner during breaks, relax and get out their aggressions. Punch a wall, maybe. Or look real mean.

Let's hope that no one tells the Americans about this.

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