When it comes to snapping pics, we’ve come a long way from smiling and saying “Cheese!” From duck-face selfies to fish gape smiles, there’s an animal for practically every pose. (Sparrow face, anyone?) Regardless of which selfie style you choose, new psychology research from Western University suggests that your pose might have a big impact on the assumptions people make about you — specifically your age.

While we might assume that a smiling face is a symbol of youth, it turns out our brains don’t necessary make that connection. Western University and Ben-Gurion University researchers showed photos to a focus group of 40 Ben Gurion University students and asked them to guess the ages of smiling, surprised, and neutral-faced people. The researchers were shocked to discover that the focus group assumed individuals with smiling faces were older. TBH, we were too!

It turns out that surprised faces are the true reigning champs of youth. When presented with images of a surprised face, more of the focus group identified those faces as younger. Neutral faces were rated the oldest. What’s especially interesting about this experiment is that afterward, researchers asked the focus group to reflect on which pose made individuals look the youngest. The group voted on the smiling faces — even after aging up smiling individuals! Talk about your brain playing tricks on you.

The new study has been published in the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, but we don’t see it having any impact on the selfies we take. If a photo is worth 1,000 words, we’re thinking a smile might be worth even more.

What’s your go-to selfie pose? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

(Photo via Getty)