Did you know that a simple smile can actually make you feel happier? A new study published in the April Psychological Bulletin examined 50 years of data about facial expressions. The study was designed to answer one question: Can expressions actually make you feel the emotion on your face?
Yes, common sense dictates that we can feel slightly happier if we just smile or become more serious when we scowl. However, psychologists have disputed this idea for more than 100 years.
Using data from more than 11,000 people globally, project researchers opted to gather conflicting data about facial expressions and conduct a meta-analysis. After parsing out all the findings and running new analyses, they discovered that facial expressions did affect human feelings, although the effects were relatively small. To wit, if a subject smiled, they reported feeling happier; if they scowled, they felt angrier; and if they frowned, they felt sadder.
After nearly 100 years of dissent in the psychological community about facial expressions, this research team has shown that facial expressions do impact human feelings. Clearly, the researchers carefully note that the effects on emotion were small. According to the research team, many people think that they can smile their way out of the doldrums but smiling is no quick fix for depression. At times, facial expressions can influence human emotion but not always. They study shed clear clues on how the mind-body interaction shape our conscious emotional experience.
Moreover, it highlights the mind-body connection reality and how it can act as a quick mood booster. Besides giving you extra pep in your step, the many other benefits of smiling include reducing stress and anxiety, helping to control pain, putting others at ease, and strengthening your immune system.
Happily, smiling is contagious. If you walk into a room sporting a huge grin on your face, you can light up the whole space for everyone else.