The benefits of smiling

The benefits of smiling

In case you need even more proof that smiling and positivity is helpful…

A happy face can certainly lift spirits, but can it reduce rage?

Studies have documented that the physical act of smiling is a universal, and effective way to lift mood, if briefly. But in the latest research on the power of the smile, researchers led by Marcus Munafo of the University of Bristol in England found that even seeing smiles on the faces of others can have a profound effect on a person’s tendency toward violence or aggression— that is, as long as that person recognizes the smile as one of happiness, and not as a sneer.

Munafo and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments involving normal adults as well as highly aggressive teens who had been referred to a youth program, either by educational authorities or the courts. About 70% of the teens already had a criminal record.

In the first experiment, 40 healthy adults, aged 18-30, looked at computer images of faces that had been morphed to show facial expressions that ranged from happy to angry with increasingly difficult to discern expressions in between. Participants were asked how angry they felt and then had to rate the images as displaying either happiness or anger — there was no option for “ambiguous” or “unable to tell.” From these ratings, the scientists were able to generate a score of their biases toward happiness or anger as reflected by where the volunteers decided that happiness ended and anger began…

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