Inspired living

Does smiling actually make people feel happier? We take a look at the research.

Does smiling actually make people feel happier? We take a look.

Credit: Joel Mott

Conventional wisdom tells us that you can feel a little happier if you simply smile but this theory came into serious question when, in 2016, 17 teams of researchers failed to replicate a well-known experiment demonstrating that the physical act of smiling can make people feel happier. So, to really test the hypothesis, researchers combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants from all around the world. According to the results of this cross-cultural meta-analysis, facial expressions have a small impact on feelings. For example, smiling makes people feel happier, scowling makes them feel angrier and frowning makes them feel sadder. It’s not like you can smile your way to happiness but there is some feedback loop between what your facial muscles are doing and what your brain thinks it is feeling. To some small degree at least, you can fake it till you feel it.

Source: Psychological Bulletin


Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.