Posted on Apr 13, 2019, 5 p.m.
University of Tennessee and Texas A&M research suggests smiling actually makes people feel happier, so as it turns out if you’re having a rough day, simply smiling does more than turning a frown upside down, as published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.
Several emotions can be manipulated to a degree with facial features, the effects are noted not to be long lasting or profoundly powerful, but it was significant enough to show a correlation between emotions and how one carries themself. Nicholas Coles explains, “It appears that the physical act of smiling can make us feel happy, that frowning can make us feel sad, that scowling can make us feel angry.”
This meta-analysis looked at 138 studies conducted over the past 50 years, which included data from over 11,000 participants from around the globe. In 2017 one project involving 17 teams of researchers was unsuccessful in proving a prominent study found a link between smiling and happiness; this theory has been debated for more than a century, the team believes their research has the strongest evidence to date, and sheds more light on how the mind and body work together to form emotions.
Some studies suggest there is no evidence of facial expression influencing emotional feelings, this team did not to focus on results from any one study as psychologists have been testing this idea since the 70s and they wanted to look at all of the evidence.
The team found a clear and noteworthy connection between facial expressions and feeling, albeit a small one, which can vary from person to person and may depend on circumstances and setting. The team does not suggest smiling more will cure conditions such as depression, rather it may help to provide some level of uplift.
“A lot of people think that you can smile your way to happiness, but these effects don’t really seem to be that powerful. Facial expressions like smiling can sometimes influence our emotion, but not always. Every day that we study these facial feedback effects, we get a little bit closer to understanding how emotions work, and that’s a real reason to smile,” concluded Coles.
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