Improve smile :: Smile4dairy

Improve smile

Improve Your Smile

We tackled that question as part of our “Is It True?” video series here at the Health Blog — you can see the video below. (And look here and here for our previous videos, on the freshman 15 and melatonin’s effects on sleep.)

We found a wealth of information on smiling and how it can boost positive emotions. Neuropsychologist Jodi Deluca gives us a brief overview of how the body responds to smiling and laughter, while George Bonanno, author of “The Other Side of Sadness, ” talks about the benefits of a spontaneous joy-filled smile.

Researchers who have studied the “facial-feedback hypothesis, ” which originated with Charles Darwin, say smiling can intensify a person’s pleasure. The idea is that the act of making a facial expression influences our feelings in a way that is consistent with that expression — as with a smile and joy, according to Paula Niedenthal, professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who studies emotion.

In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1988, researchers had participants hold a pen either tightly with their lips to inhibit smiling or with the front of their teeth to activate muscles used for smiling. They asked both groups to rate how funny cartoons were and found that people who were primed for smiling found the cartoons funnier than those who those who weren’t.

In a 2010 study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers found that when they used Botox to block the muscle used for frowning, participants took longer to process a negative emotion such as anger or sadness.

David Havas, lead author of the study, says their finding suggests the opposite may be true — that if you smile, you’re more likely to see positive emotions in the world around you.

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