A new study has confirmed that smiling makes us happier
Researchers at Tennessee State University and Texas A&M University looked at test data from nearly 50 years and found a clear connection between facial expressions and subsequent emotions. An article concerning this was published by the reputable Psychological Bulletin journal.
Scientists conducted a meta-analysis of data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants from all around the world. The results of the analysis may resolve a long-standing debate among psychologists about the influence of facial expressions on emotions perceived. For about 100 years, psychologists have not been able to come to a consensus on this issue. For example, a 2016 experiment failed to confirm that smiling can make a person feel happier.
“Psychologists have been trying out this idea since the early 1970s. Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings,” stated Nicholas Coles, PhD student in the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Tennessee, a team leader.
“But in our work, we did not focus on the results of just one study. We wanted to look at all of the evidence. We’ve got a tremendous result that sheds light on how the interaction of our mind and body shapes a conscious emotional experience. Meta-analysis has brought us a little closer to understanding the mechanism of emotion.”
Based on a meta-analysis, the researchers hypothesized that staged facial expression influences the emotions experienced. Although the magnitude of the effect is variable and depends upon some other factors, the study tilts the balance in favour of the hypothesis that facial expressions can evoke emotion.