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The feel-good effect of smiling is something you probably thought you were pretty clued up on.
But it turns out scientists hadn’t been completely positive about a link for a while (more than a hundred years, in fact).
Fortunately, researchers have come to the conclusion after all this time that plastering on a grin – genuine or otherwise – really will make you feel better.
That means that the simple act of smiling will automatically boost your happiness.
Scientists looked at almost half a century of data exploring whether facial expressions affect mood.
“Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile,” said Nicholas Coles, lead researcher from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
“But psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years.”
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Pointing to one 2016 study, where 17 teams of psychologists failed to conclusively show in an experiment that smiling makes people happier, Coles noted that not all research has found a connection.
But by looking at 138 studies involving 11,000 people around the world, the scientists on the most recent research project did find an overall link.
“Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings,” Coles explained.
“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.”
While it might sound like great news if you’re feeling a little anxious, just be wary that it works in reverse too.
If you scowl it is likely to make you feel angry, and if you frown it could bring up sad emotions.
“We don’t think that people can smile their way to happiness,” Coles added.
“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.”
That’s sure put a smile on our faces this sunny Sunday.