At some point you have probably been told that standing in front of the mirror has the power to change your mood, even make you happier in the long-term. Though this idea may sound like a wise tale, researchers from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville have shown that there may be some truth and power in smiling more.
The psychologists from the university have discovered that smiling has the power to make people feel happier. After examining data from 138 studies and well over 11,000 participants the researchers have concluded that facial expressions have more impact on our feelings than we think.
Put a Smile on that Face
The research and data collected spans well over 50 years and was conducted using a statistical technique called meta-analysis. As mentioned by Nicholas Coles, UT Ph.D. student in social psychology and lead researcher on the paper, "Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings.”
"But we can't focus on the results of any one study. Psychologists have been testing this idea since the early 1970s, so we wanted to look at all the evidence."
However, the data was not just limited to smiling. According to the data provided, the same way smiling can make people feel happier, scowling and frowning can make you feel angrier or even sadder.
"Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or that we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl,” says Coles. "But psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years."
"But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion. We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work."
Hopefully, this new research can put the debate to rest. So if your day is not going well, perhaps you could try putting on a smile. Happy Sunday.