Faking a smile may not make you happier after all, according to a large new study which contradicts the belief that our body’s movements can affect our mood. The idea that faking a smile may brighten our mood, which came out of a psychological experiment from the 1980s, may not be true, as scientists were not able to repeat the results in a lab setting.
In the facial-feedback hypothesis, dating back to 1988, participants rated the humour of cartoons while inadvertently mimicking either a smile or a pout. The participants were simply asked to hold a pen in their mouths, either with their lips (which pushes the face into a frown-like expression) or their teeth (which mimics a smile). The participants who used the pen to mimic a smile rated the cartoons as funnier.
Now, a new study on 1,894 participants has found no evidence that such an effect exists, ‘Live Science’ reported. Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, the lead researcher of the replication attempt from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and colleagues in 17 labs around the world recruited participants and repeated the pen-in-mouth experiment.
They used the same cartoon series, The Far Side, that was used in the 1988 experiments, but they selected different cartoon panels, which they tested among outside raters to ensure that the raters reached consensus that each cartoon used in the study was “moderately funny.”
“None of the experiments yielded a statistically reliable effect individually,” Wagenmakers said. “Overall, these are the kind of data you would expect to see if you tried to replicate an effect that doesn’t exist or is so small you can’t find it with the paradigm you were using,” he said. The research was published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.