In a groundbreaking new study scientists have identified a quick and easy way to lift mood and improve outlook—simply smile, even if it is a fake smile! For this study scientists had study subjects induce a fake smile by holding a pen between their teeth, forcing their facial muscles to move as they would in a real smile. The scientists simultaneously monitored the study subjects’ brain activity as well as the study subjects’ perception of facial images showing a range of emotions from sad/frowning to happy/smiling.
The uplifting results? When engaged in the fake smiling, the activity in the subjects’ emotional center, the amygdala, increased its release of neurochemicals tied to positive states. What’s more, during the fake smiling the study subjects were more perceptive of the happy/smiling faces shown to them vs. the sad faces.
Bottom line—during the physical act of smiling you feel happier and are more likely to see the world around you in a positive light. Spread the joy by smiling more! Experimental Psychology, 2020; 67 (1): 14 DOI: 10.1027/1618-3169/a000470