“Fake it ‘til You Make It” May Improve Your Moodadmin
New research from the University of South Australia published in the journal Experimental Psychology “has found that faking a smile can act on the parts of our brain linked to mood, improving our outlook,” IFLScience.com reports.
In this experiment, the researchers asked participants to place a pen between their teeth, which forced them to smile. They then asked the same participants to evaluate the facial expressions and movements of other people, sometimes with the pen in their mouth and sometimes without. They found that the people with the pens in their mouth viewed the facial expressions and movements more favorably than those without a pen. “The findings showed that smiling not only alters how we see facial expressions but also how we read body expressions, with both generating more positive emotions within us,” Rachael Funnell writes.
“When your muscles say you’re happy, you’re more likely to see the world around you in a positive way,” lead researcher and human and artificial cognition expert Dr. Marmolejo-Ramos said in a statement. “In our research we found that when you forcefully practice smiling, it stimulates the amygdala – the emotional center of the brain – which releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state. For mental health, this has interesting implications. If we can trick the brain into perceiving stimuli as ‘happy’, then we can potentially use this mechanism to help boost mental health.”