Bumisuka.com – Fake Smiles Can Make You Really Happy and These Are Facts. Smile, the universal language that shows that someone is happy and happy. However, is that really what you’re feeling? Is there a hidden burden or sadness behind that smile?
Not infrequently someone puts on a fake smile aka a fake smile to look happy and strong even though the reality is fragile. Apparently, studies say that fake smiles have their own positive impact on mood conditions. Really? Try reading this article while listening to the song The Great Pretender by the late Queen vocalist, Freddie Mercury.
Involve thousands of participants
The facial feedback hypothesis states that facial expressions can affect emotions. Published in the journal Nature Human Behavior in 2022, a joint study looks into this. The study involved 3,878 participants from 19 countries with an average age of 26 years.
The participants worked on various tasks before filling out the Discrete Emotions Questionnaire (DEQ) to measure their level of happiness. This level ranges from 1 (not at all happy) to 7 (very happy). In addition, the participants also reported their level of anxiety, anger, fatigue, and confusion.
The tasks assigned to participants are:
- Ballpoint pen in mouth: Participants bite the ball with their teeth to make a smile appear or with their lips to look neutral.
- Facial mimicry: Participants imitate happy or neutral facial expressions.
- Free facial expressions: Participants were asked to smile or put on a neutral face.
The researchers studied DEQ responses to gauge whether participants’ levels of happiness changed when they put on a happy face or a neutral face. In addition, they also studied the effect of positive images (pictures of dogs and cats, flowers, or rainbows) on patients’ happiness levels using the DEQ.
Result: Smiling can indeed improve mood
As a result, the researchers found that participants’ levels of happiness were higher when exposed to positive images and after wearing happy facial expressions. Even so, putting on a happy face when exposed to positive nuanced images did not have a significant impact on feelings of happiness.
The researchers noted that happy expressions did not decrease feelings of anger or anxiety. Funnily enough, participants actually reported high levels of anger and anxiety while doing the ballpoint pen task (in other words, being forced to smile).
Research leader from Stanford University, Dr. Nicholas A. Coles, explained that he also conducted research in May 2022 also with the Many Smiles Collaboration data to see the effects of smiling and frowning. As a result, smiling increases happiness and frowning increases anger.
Why fake smile can improve mood?
IDN Times mental health counselor, Hoshael Waluyo Erlan, welcomed the study. While the facial feedback hypothesis is often studied, the world has not studied further whether facial expressions really determine human emotions, such as happy because they smile and sad or angry because they frown.
Reported by Medical News Today, Dr. Nicholas explains that there are two controversial theories as to why a fake smile can make us happier, namely:
- Facial feedback activates the part of the brain that causes emotional responses throughout the body.
- Sensorimotor feedback from faces signals the brain to create feelings. Thus, the sensorimotor feedback from a smile is happiness in the brain, while frowning is a negative feeling in the brain.
Based on basic human needs?
Hoshael also said that there are many reasons why someone fakes a smile. One of them is the basic human need to be accepted by the environment. For this purpose, a smile is the simplest and most common expression that is normatively and collectively accepted by mankind, regardless of culture and situation.
He continued, when someone puts on a fake smile, the thing that can be seen is that the person is fine. As a result, there will be no questions that actually cloud the state of the heart or make it uncomfortable because they have to open up.
For most people, it is easier to deny one’s own emotions. Therefore, Hoshael said that fake smile is a unique mechanism because it is not only “lie” other people, those who do it are also “lie” themselves.
Don’t show fake smile too often
Talking about fake smiles, Hoshael agreed that this research proves that smiling can affect emotions. However, talking about the practical benefits of fake smiles on mental health, it can’t be applied just like that.
According to him, a fake smile can bring happiness if the person who does it is aware that he is smiling. However, if a person is too immersed in emotions and is not aware of his smile, then a fake smile is still useless.
So, is a pure smile better? Of course. However, Hoshael straightened that like vitamins that can’t prevent all diseases, then a smile can’t necessarily “replace emotions”.
With a fake smile, someone wants to look happy even though the situation tells the opposite. Hoshael says that emotional denial is not a permanent solution. So, it’s not fake smiles that he has a problem with, but at this time it is done to “lie” his own emotions.
If a fake smile is used to deny emotions, the negative impact is not only on the perpetrator because the surrounding environment knows that what is put on the face is a fake smile.
Even so, it is not uncommon for someone to not have time to manage or understand their own emotions. In that case, Hoshael suggested to keep smiling.
Silence is better than faking a smile
Hoshael says that negative emotions are emotions and need to be expressed. So, if your heart is in turmoil but you don’t have the space or time to process negative emotions, he suggests taking a moment and being quiet.
In this state of silence, Hoshael suggested to ask questions and examine the emotions within yourself. What do you feel? Why is there such a feeling? So, what triggers these feelings? According to him, these questions can help a person process negative emotions.
Then, what if you really can’t process negative feelings right then and there? And so, Hoshael suggested putting on a neutral expression. Then, if the environment is so stupid that it makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s time to refuse.
Touching on the difficulty of maintaining a smile in several business sectors (to the extent that workers are often found crying in the toilet), Hoshael said that practicing smiling must be accompanied by emotional understanding. With increased emotional sensitivity, a person knows what to do in the early stages of emotion.
Future study expectations
When asked about the study’s shortcomings, Hoshael said that this research is still experimental and in a laboratory scenario so it cannot be generalized to the general population. With regulated methods and stimuli, this is different from real-world scenarios.
Even so, Hoshael hopes that this research can be replicated in Indonesia to find out how Indonesians respond to facial and emotional stimuli. Depending on ethnicity, Hoshael emphasized that emotional control is a complicated thing and people in other parts of Indonesia have different ways.