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08 Feb

Putting on a fake smile does not make you feel happy, according to new research. A long-held method of beating nerves – putting on a fake smile – has been shown to be ineffective.

People who suffer from nerves have long been advised to smile to make themselves feel better. But faking a beaming grin to make yourself feel happier and more relaxed does not work.

For a myth-busting review of an old study reveals grinning won’t always improve your mood, Just as frowning doesn’t make you feel unhappy.

A 1998 study asked participants to hold a pen between their teeth, causing them to ‘grin’, or between their lips, inducing a ‘frown*.

They were then shown cartoons and asked to rate how funny they were.

The study found those grinning were more likely to giggle at the cartoons. Its results have been cited ever since.

However, a new version of the study asked 1,900 participants to hold the pens in their mouths and complete tasks including drawing lines under vowels and between numbers, before rating the cartoons.

No evidence was found to suggest that inducing particular facial expressions led the participants to rate the cartoons differently.

Study author Professor Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, of the University of Amsterdam, said: ‘This did not replicate the results [of the original authors] and failed to do so in a statistically compelling fashion.’
The findings are published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

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