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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Here’s why faking a smile does not make you happy

The idea that faking a smile may uplift our mood, which came out of a psychological experiment from the 1980s, may not be true, as scientists were not able to repeat these results in a lab setting.

sex-and-relationships Updated: Jan 19, 2019 16:54 IST
Saumya Sharma
Saumya Sharma
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Faking a smile on your face at all times may not make you happier, after all.
Faking a smile on your face at all times may not make you happier, after all.(Unsplash)
         

Fake it till you make it, some say. But faking a smile on your face at all times may not make you happier, after all, says this study which counters the belief that the movement of our body affects our mood. The idea had first come from a psychological experiment from the 1980s, which discovered that the brain senses the flexion of certain facial muscles like the zygomaticus major, required to smile, and interprets it as “I am happy about something”. However, this 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 inadvertently beings a frown to ones face or makes the expression grim) or their teeth (which resembles a smile). The participants who used the pen to mimic a smile rated the cartoons as funnier.

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 the consensus that each cartoon used in the study was “moderately funny,” reported LiveScience.

“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 added. The research was published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

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First Published: Jan 18, 2019 13:49 IST