Being angry makes you look older

Did you know that being angry makes you look older? Well, it might. I’m just guessing based on a facial recognition experiment I did recently which I thought was a little alarming. Being angry certainly seemed to make me look older.

Disclaimer: this is not scientific at all and doesn’t have any form of proof that would even resemble valid proof of a scientific theory. Think of this as the cats gif equivalent of bad pseudo-science. In other words, it’s possibly mildly interesting, slightly entertaining waffle. Well, except, maybe, for the research I point to below my story.

My fairly unscientific test to show that being angry makes you look older

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. I did a little facial recognition and analysis experiment a few days ago after Heidi Patmore suggested it.

I visited the “Test if you have Resting Bitch Face” site and uploaded a couple photos of myself and submitted them for analysis.

Photo 1: My neutral-while-on-vacation look

In this photo, which my wife took of me in Jerusalem during a family vacation recently, I have what I like to think of as my neutral expression. I usually have it in photos when I’m waiting to see if the photographer has taken a photo yet.

Me on some of my glory

I submitted this photo for analysis and this was the outcome:

My neutral, on vacation look

Besides the interpretation of my emotional state, look at the “Characteristics” section in the bottom right. The analysis of my age is between 35 and 45. It is fairly accurate. I am currently 40.

Photo 2: My smiling-while-on-vacation look

This is my version of a smile and it still frustrates my wife because she wants to see teeth in smiles. Nevertheless, this is a smile.

In this analysis, my apparent age (according to the software, of course) is 25 to 35. This is, of course, great. It isn’t the first time people have commented on how young I can look in photos where I am smiling.


That doesn’t mean that this is clear, scientific proof that smiling makes you look younger. It just means it seems to make me look younger.

Photo 3: My seemingly-neutral-but-actually-annoyed look

I took a different selfie for the purposes of the test. Yes, it is against a different background, from a different angle and shot with a worse camera but bear with me.

My angry, neutral look

The analysis interprets this one as a predominantly neutral photo with hints of anger and disgust. I was actually pretty annoyed at the time I took the photo so I certainly felt angrier than I appeared.


What struck me about this photo is that the analysis puts my age at between 50 and 60. You could probably take off 10 years to account for the differences between the photos in terms of setting, camera quality and angle. This would still mean, pretty unscientifically, that being angry may (possibly, results may vary, refer to Disclaimer above) make you look older.

Even if being angry doesn’t actually make you look older, smiling really does seem to make you look younger so that is good too, right?

There might be some actual, scientific proof too

Just for kicks, I Googled this idea that being angry could make you look older. The first result I found was an article titled “Anger makes you age more quickly” on Daily Mail Online. I don’t know if the Daily Mail Online is well regarded, premium news publication but it includes references to an actual scientific study that are useful:

More worryingly, the findings – presented in the journal Thorax, a specialist publication of the British Medical Journal – showed that people who constantly feel anger are more likely to age quicker.

Hostility and anger have long been associated with a whole host of long term health problems.

The constant flood of stress chemicals and metabolic changes in the body that accompany feelings of anger can lead to high blood pressure, headaches, digestion problems and skin problems such as eczema.

They can also lead to more serious conditions such as asthma, depression and heart disease and can cause heart attacks and strokes.

I’ve certainly seen the dangerous effects of stress on my blood glucose levels so it isn’t a leap to say that being angry over a period of time can have other negative health effects.

A 2013 study titled “High Anger Expression Exacerbates the Relationship Between Age and Metabolic Syndrome” revealed the following:

Among older adults, anger expression predicted higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Older adults reporting showing lower anger expression had metabolic syndrome rates comparable to younger adults. Results highlight that failing to show the frequently observed decline in anger expression with age may have pernicious health concomitants.

I’ll put it another way. Older people tend to be less angry and have more emotional well-being (with the benefit of having a comparable risk of metabolic syndrome as younger adults). Older people who remain angry (presumably as a general state of being) are more at risk from a health perspective.

So? Does being angry make you look older?

There are probably other studies and, as I pointed out earlier, this post of mine is hardly a scientific study. Isn’t it worth thinking about, though? Perhaps taking steps to reduce your anger levels is a good idea. You may live a longer, healthier life. At the very least, you’ll appear younger in photos when you smile!

Image credit: Pixabay


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