Many people pose the question to themselves and those around them – “what is happiness?”. In 1989, a psychologist named Robert Zajonc attempted to partially answer this. He published one of the most significant studies on the emotional effects of producing a smile.
His subjects repeated vowel sounds that forced their faces into various expressions. To mimic some of the characteristics of a smile, they made the long “e” sound, which stretches the corners of the mouth outward. Other vowel sounds were also tested, including the long “u”, which forces the mouth into a pouty expression.
In yet another experiment, one group of subjects was shown pictures of various facial expressions; another group made those facial expressions and a final group made those expressions while looking in the mirror.
The evidence all points toward smiling as a cause of happy feelings.
Subjects were asked questions that pinpointed their emotional state before and after smiling, and they overwhelmingly scored higher happiness ratings after smiling. In the study involving the mirror, subjects who watched themselves smile saw an even more pronounced change in mood than those who smiled without the mirror, and the subjects who merely looked at pictures didn’t experience that change at all.
Those researchers hypothesized that self-consciousness is a factor in the effect – that introspective people might experience a greater smile-related mood lift than those who are less aware of their feelings.
According to the Dr. Robert Zajonc hypothesis, the facial changes involved in smiling have direct effects on certain brain activities associated with happiness.
We found this study interesting, and as your [link url=http://www.myorthodontists.ca/experts.php]Surrey Orthodontic Specialist[/link], we want nothing more for our patients than for them to be healthy AND happy. Remember, that sometimes your smile is the result of your happiness, but sometimes your happiness can be the result of your smile!