Smile can really make people happier. It illuminates our features, makes our face shine and can transform our attitude. It’s a fact: the smile is the most recognizable and communicative facial expression.
The smile also has a “magic” power: that of making us happy. It is in any case that advances a new study published in the Psychological Bulletin.
According to its authors, facial expressions, starting with a smile, have a direct impact on our emotions and well-being.
Disagreements between researchers for a century
To determine if smiling could bring happiness, researchers from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Texas A & M combined data from 138 studies involving more than 11,000 participants. “According to popular wisdom, we can feel a little happier if we just smile, and say that we can put ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl,” says Nicholas Coles, Ph.D. student in Social Psychology. University of Tennessee and Principal Investigator. “But psychologists have disagreed on this idea for over a hundred years.”
These differences were further accentuated in 2016 when 17 teams of researchers failed to replicate a well-known experience demonstrating that the physical act of smiling can make people happier. “Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings,” says Nicholas Coles. “But we can not focus on the results of a single study – psychologists have been testing this idea since the early 1970s, so we wanted to look at all the evidence.”
A real interaction between mind and body
Using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, researchers combined data from 138 studies involving more than 11,000 participants from around the world. According to the results, facial expressions do have an impact on feelings. For example, smiling makes people happier, say the researchers. But this reciprocity between facial expressions and feelings also works for less positive emotions. They have shown that cringe can make angry and frown make people more sad.
“We do not think people can smile to achieve happiness,” Nicholas Coles said. “But these discoveries are exciting because they provide a clue to how the mind and body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotions. We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis gave us a better understanding of how emotions work. “
Smile can really make people happier