World Smiles Back

Close up photo of a women's smile and dark hair


Smile, and the world smiles back?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying…

Cheer up! You look so much better when flaunting those pearly whites. But does smiling REALLY lift our spirits?

Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos from the University of South Australia and colleagues wondered. Does wearing a smile affects how we see the world?

The team recruited university students from Tokyo and Stockholm. Volunteers watched eleven videos of moving dots that mimicked a person walking. Videos portrayed body language in a wide range from happy to sad.

The students watched all the videos twice. During the first playthrough, they held a pen in their teeth to stimulate smiling muscles. The second round, no pen. Then, volunteers rated the videos as sad or happy.

Results? Participants rated more videos HAPPY when they had the pen between their teeth. The researchers think that activating our smiling muscles triggers our brain’s emotions — which makes us FEEL happier.

Smiling TRICKS our brains into viewing the world more positively — even a fake smile!

So, turn that frown upside down! Science says so!

Reference: Marmolejo-Ramos, F., Murata, A., Sasaki, K., Yamada, Y., Ikeda, A., Hinojosa, J. A., Watanabe, K., Parzuchowski, M., Tirado, C., & Ospina, R. (2020). Your Face and Moves Seem Happier When I Smile. Experimental Psychology, 67(1), 14–22.