Who knew that rejection might have an upside? After being dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend, the only things we feel good at is, well, being rejected.

But in a strange twist of evolutionary fate, apparently that rejection may sensitize us to genuineness in others and being better able to spot fake or artificial emotions. The researchers tested their hypothesis on undergraduates and smiles:

The research found that subjects who were manipulated to feel rejection were able to distinguish a fake smile from a real one nearly 80 percent of the time. Researchers studied 32 subjects, 17 women and 15 men. […]

“Some thought the subjects who had been rejected would latch on to any sign of positivity and accept the insincere smiles as genuine,” Bernstein said. “But it’s clear we’re equipped with radar for identifying who is open to affiliation and who is not.”

It may not work with other displays of emotion, however. For instance, can we tell if someone is being genuine if they say, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear you two broke up”? After all, that would seem to be something of more use to a person who just faced rejection, rather than a smile.

It’s a very small study, done with undergraduates, who were manipulated into feeling something (versus a feeling resulting from a genuine life situation), so the results must be taken with a grain of salt. Still, it’s an intriguing discovery and it’ll be interesting to see if future research confirms this finding.

Read the full article: Socially Rejected Are Better Judges of Sincerity