Futurity

To change how you feel, put on a smile

Changing your facial expression can alter the emotions you feel, according to 50 years of data.
man smiling against wall

Smiling really can make you feel happier, report researchers.

The paper looked at nearly 50 years of data testing whether posing facial expressions can lead people to feel the emotions related to those expressions.

“These findings address a critical question about the links between our internal experience and our bodies—whether changing our facial expression can alter the emotions we feel and our emotional response to the world,” says coauthor Heather Lench, an associate professor and head of the psychological and brain sciences department at Texas A&M University.

“…psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years.”

“Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or that we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl. But psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years” says lead author Nicholas Coles, a researcher from the University of Tennessee.

These disagreements became more pronounced in 2016 when 17 teams of researchers failed to replicate a well-known experiment demonstrating that the physical act of smiling can make people feel happier.

Using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, the team combined data from 138 studies testing over 11,000 participants from all around the world. According to the meta-analysis, posing facial expressions has a small impact on our feelings. For example, smiling makes people feel happier, scowling makes them feel angrier, and frowning makes them feel more sad.

“We don’t think that people can ‘smile their way to happiness’. But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion” says Coles.

“We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work.”

The paper appears in Psychological Bulletin.

Source: Texas A&M University

The post To change how you feel, put on a smile appeared first on Futurity.

More from Futurity

Futurity2 min readScience
Bacterial Trick May Lead To Antibiotics Without Side Effects
The way the bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ Disease begins its invasion into host cells could pave the way for more targeted antibiotics, researchers report. Although we may think of bacteria as disease-causing microorganisms, there are about as
Futurity2 min readPsychology
Alzheimer’s Drug Reverses Binge Drinking Damage In Teen Rats
Donepezil, a drug used to slow cognitive decline in adults with Alzheimer’s disease, appears to reverse brain inflammation and neuron damage in rats exposed to alcohol during adolescence, researchers report. In a study in the journal Scientific Repor
Futurity3 min readScience
Team Hunts For ‘Optical Counterparts’ Of Gravitational Waves
A new campaign is using the Catalina Sky Survey’s near-Earth object telescope to find the optical counterparts to gravitational waves, researchers report. Since the construction of technology that can detect gravitational waves, ripples in space and