Smiling can really make people feel happier, according to a new paper published in Psychological Bulletin .
Co-author of researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Texas A & M saw the paper on nearly 50 years of data testing whether facial expressions can make people feel the emotions associated with these expressions.
"Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl," said Nicholas Coles, UT Ph.D. students in social psychology and lead researcher on paper. "But psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 1
These disagreements became more pronounced in 2016, when 17 research groups failed to copy a well-known experiment that showed that the physical action of smiling can make people feel happier.
"Some studies have not found signs that facial expressions can affect emotional feelings," Coles said. "But we can't focus on the results of a study. Psychologists have tested this idea since the early 1970's so we wanted to look at all the evidence."
Using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, Coles and his team combined data from 138 studies that tested more than 11,000 participants from around the world. According to the results of the meta-analysis, facial expressions have a small influence on emotions. For example, smiling makes people feel happier, scowling makes them feel anxious, and frowning makes them feel more sad.
"We don't think people can smile happily," Coles said. "But these results are exciting because they give a clue as to how the mind and body interact to shape our conscious feelings of emotion. We still have much to learn about these feedback effects, but this meta-analysis puts us a little closer to understanding how feelings work. "
Why smiles (and wrinkles) is contagious
Nicholas A. Coles et al., A meta-analysis of facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable., Psychological Bulletin (2019). DOI: 10,1037 / bul0000194
Psychologists Find Smiling Can Really Make People Happier (2019, April 11)
April 12, 2019
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