At one time or other, someone has probably told you “it’s written all over your face.” That’s because your emotions can influence your expressions. Well, a study in the journal Psychological Science suggests that the reverse is also true: that the look on your face may influence your ability to process emotions.
Psychologists have a theory called the facial-feedback hypothesis. It states that your mug and your emotions interact. So, when you’re happy, you smile, and the act of smiling boosts your feelings of joy. To test the theory, psychologists reached for the botox. They used the toxin to deaden the muscles that control frowning.
Then they asked their frown-free friends to read statements that were either angry (about telemarketers), happy (about water parks), or sad (no e-mails on your birthday). And they found that the folks on botox took longer to read and understand the sad and angry sentences than they did the happy ones. Their inability to scowl seemed to impair their ability to see why pushy telemarketers or a lack of birthday wishes might make one’s face fall. It all suggests that you should smile as you read the newspaper. Maybe things won’t seem so bad.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]