The Science Behind Smiling: Does Putting on a Happy Face Make You Happier?
While it’s pretty clear that smiling is a way to outwardly express that you’re happy whether you are or not, some interesting studies have been done that show that smiling may actually influence your mood, making you happier even if you are simply faking it.
Everyone has cracked a fake smile at some point or another, and at the time, it may have seemed really difficult. However, these studies that we will talk about have proven that it may be in your best interest to smile even when you might not feel like it. And in order to have a bright smile, you need to feel confident about your teeth, something that we can definitely help you with.
The “Facial Feedback Hypothesis”
The “facial feedback hypothesis” states that whatever expression you put on your face ends up affecting your mood and the way in which you interact with others. It originated with Charles Darwin, a scientist who is most famous for his theories on evolution and species adaptation. Darwin believed that whatever emotion someone was wearing on their face “intensified” the emotion that they were feeling, assuming that the external expression matched the internal. But, even if it didn’t, the outward expression on someone’s face could in turn influence what he or she was feeling inside. Darwin’s theory, formulated in the late nineteenth century, fell to the wayside as his more explosive findings took the center stage for heated debate. However, the “facial feedback hypothesis” became very important to psychological researchers in the coming centuries after Darwin’s death.
This hypothesis was tested by researchers at several universities, and their landmark findings were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1988. The study, which would be one of many, was conducted by researchers who instructed participants to hold a pen between their lips and teeth in a way that inhibited their ability to move the facial muscles used for smiling or frowning. So, participants had their faces either stretched into a smile or prevented from smiling, regardless of whether or not they actually “felt” happy or sad. After having participants hold their positions for several minutes, researchers then showed them several cartoon strips and asked them to rate how funny they thought the pictures were. Those who had been made to smile with the pen between their teeth rated the pictures more humorous than those who had been barred from smiling.
Researchers took the study to mean that the act of stretching the facial muscles into a smile and keeping it there, regardless of whether or not you actually feel happy, impacts your mood and makes it so that you viewed the world in a more positive light. However, this wasn’t the only study that corroborated the 1988 findings.
Botox Injection Study
Botox injections are meant to stretch and smooth the skin in order to reverse the process of aging. The Botox injection study worked similarly to the way the pen experiment did in 1988, except this study took place in 2010. This study, conducted by David Havas, was published by Psychological Science. When Botox was used to freeze the muscles that participants used to frown, they found that these participants viewed the world more positively than their counterparts, who had not had the treatment and were able to make any expression they wanted. The Botox prevented the first group from smiling and, when surveyed, researchers found that that first group was, as a whole, happier than the control group. These findings corresponded to what the 1988 Journal discovered, proving that putting on a happy face can, in fact, improve your mood regardless of what you’re feeling at the time.
While you may want to smile, there could be some reasons you feel insecure about your grin. You may have damaged or crooked teeth, and that can make you feel a lack of confidence about your smile. The quest for the “perfect smile” is one that many people have embarked on, and, next to weight issues and skin issues, feeling self-conscious about your teeth is one of the most ubiquitous self-esteem problems there is. Luckily, this is the twenty-first century, and technology is available to correct just about any problem you could possibly have that is holding you back from smiling -- even the dread of a root canal has become a thing of the past. Your local dentist can help you fix your smile, making you unafraid to put on that happy face.
The psychology behind the importance of smiling cannot be understated, and it’s vital that you have the self-confidence necessary to smile. If you are feeling insecure about your teeth you want to have them whitened or need Invisalign, you haven’t missed the boat on having the smile you’ve always wanted. Premier Smile Center has everything you need to get your smile back in tip-top shape, brightening your mood each day.