Something to smile about

Did young Americans become broadly happier in the 20th century? On one remarkable surface measure, it seems so. A new open access study has taken “37,921 front-facing portraits sourced from 949 yearbooks in 27 states” and overlaid these to create a computer-blended ‘summary image’ for each decade.

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Though perhaps it also has something to do with the rise of the good dentistry that Americans are famed for.

It can’t be because of slow shutter speeds, and people not being able to “hold the smile”. That wasn’t true after about the late 1910s, and almost all professional studios had both flash and lots of light.

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