Information

Do people with brighter smiles feel brighter?

Do people with brighter smiles feel brighter?

People's facial shape when smiling are different. Some are bright, some looks like there's a bit embarrassment, others may be with a twist, even if they are all smiling from true happiness.
These facial looks may give the observer different feelings, that is, seeing brighter smiles makes you feel happier too, or that you feel the smiler must be happier if she has a brighter smile on her face. Is this true?
A step further. If you force a smile in your face, do brighter smiles induce brighter feelings?


01. Red

Passionate, aggressive, important

As a dominating colour, red adds gravity and heightened awareness &ndash quite literally, as the colour increases blood circulation, breathing rates, and metabolism.

Red can take on a variety of meanings, associated with both love and war, but the unifying factor in all meanings is a sense of importance. Think of the red carpet.

Red is a colour best used cautiously. Its knack for attracting attention makes it a priceless tool for designers, but used excessively it will inhibit relaxation. Lighter shades emphasise the energetic aspects of red &ndash including youthfulness &ndash while darker shades emphasise power, and even durability, such as a brick wall.

The landing page for the game design company Playtika has an aggressive but potent flair. Playful and stimulating, the red suits the cheetah logo &ndash a powerful icon itself, softened by its cartoonish qualities and anthropomorphic smile.


Does smiling make you happy?

Smiling doesn't seem like a particularly complicated act: You feel a happy emotion, the corners of your mouth turn up, your cheeks lift and your eyes crinkle. The overall effect tells the outside world that you're feeling happy on the inside. It's simple and, in most cases, totally spontaneous. We typically smile without making a concerted effort to do so.

In fact, most people are turned off by the appearance of a smile that takes effort, because so often it's obvious it's fake. It's not hard to detect a fake smile -- it usually involves only the mouth, not the eyes. The appearance of a genuine smile, one involving specific changes in the eyes in addition to the mouth (notably a crinkling of "crow's feet" and a downturn of the outer points of the eyes) is called a Duchenne smile, after the neurologist Guillaume Duchenne. Back in 1862 he identified the facial muscles involved in spontaneous smiling [source: Lienhard].

Awkward appearance aside, research performed over the past few decades suggests there could actually be a benefit to producing a fake smile. According to many experts, smiling may not only be an outward manifestation of a happy feeling. It may actually be able to cause a happy feeling. It's the exact opposite of how most people see the smile-happiness connection, but with a growing body of evidence supporting the effect, it seems there may be something to it.

But does that mean you can just turn off every bad feeling by faking a smile? Could you be a truly, permanently happy person if you master the look?

In this article, we'll look at the evidence for smiles causing happiness, see how significant the effect is and find out if there are other facial expressions that can trigger the emotions they're supposed to reflect.

In the 1970s and 1980s, quite a few psychologists got in on the smile-research action, with surprisingly consistent results.


Coping

The most effective way to live a healthy life when dealing with sensory overload is to optimize your coping mechanisms. Some coping methods include:

  • Stick to a routine to create stability. If your sensory overload is caused by unavoidable triggers in your day-to-day life, sticking to a routine might help you plan how to deal with an upcoming overload. While you might not be able to prevent it, you might be able to manage its severity.
  • Identify triggers to learn how you can avoid them or prepare for them.
  • Practice meditation to help your mind relax when you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Optimize your living space to remove things (e.g., bright or harsh lights, loud speakers) that trigger sensory overload.

When Young People Suffer Social Anxiety Disorder: What Parents Can Do

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, can have a crippling effect on young people. Children who avoid raising their hand or speaking up in school can become tweens who withdraw from extracurricular activities, and then teens who experience isolation and depression. In fact, children with social anxiety disorder are more likely than their peers without SAD to develop depression by age 15 and substance abuse by age 16 or 17.

As they head toward adulthood, young people with social anxiety disorder tend to choose paths that require less involvement with other people, and so cut short a lot of opportunities. Bright, intelligent young people who have yearnings to be lawyers or doctors, but cannot interact with other people, may choose a profession or work that is very solitary or they might not enter the work force at all.

Understanding that social phobia is a gateway disorder to depression, substance abuse, and lifetime impairment, we must make it a priority to identify it when children are younger. If we can reach children in the early stages of the disorder, we can provide them basic skills to help them manage their feelings and increase their ability to interact with people.

Parents play an important role in identifying and helping children overcome social anxiety. Learning to distinguish a shy child from one with social phobia, and understanding how parents can empower—rather than enable—children with social anxiety will help our children live full, socially rich lives.

Recognizing the “silent disorder”
Social anxiety disorder is sometimes called a silent disorder because it can affect children for years before it is diagnosed. As children grow and mature, they learn how to avoid being the focus of attention at school or home as a result, their extreme discomfort in social situations can go unnoticed.

Because children with social phobia are generally content and compliant around home, and because parents do not receive reports of misbehavior at school, many families fail to recognize a problem until their child is already withdrawn from activities and peers. By this point, the child may be experiencing extreme isolation and falling behind developmentally and academically.

Sometimes social phobia goes undiagnosed because parents confuse it with shyness. Shyness is a temperament it is not debilitating the way social anxiety disorder is. A shy child may take longer to warm up to a situation, but they eventually do. Also, a shy child engages with other kids, just at a different level of intensity than their peers. In contrast, children with social phobia will get very upset when they have to interact with people. It is a frightening situation for them, and one they would rather avoid altogether.

Understanding the warning signs
The average age of onset is 13 years, but you can see social phobia as early as 3 and 4 years old. In young children, it may take the form of selective mutism, meaning that the child is afraid to speak in front of other kids, their teachers, or just about anyone outside of the immediate family.

In elementary school, children with social phobia may start to refuse activities and you see kids dropping out of Scouts or baseball. By middle school, they may be avoiding all extracurricular activities and social events. And by high school, they may refuse to go to school and exhibit signs of depression. (Read about SAD in children and adolescents.)

Parents can help prevent social phobia from taking hold by being attuned to warning signs and symptoms. These questions highlight warning signs:

  • Is a child uncomfortable speaking to teachers or peers?
  • Does he or she avoid eye contact, mumble or speak quietly when addressed by other people?
  • Does a child blush or tremble around other people?
  • Does a young child cry or throw a tantrum when confronted with new people?
  • Does a child express worry excessively about doing or saying something “stupid”?
  • Does a child or teen complain of stomachaches and want to stay home from school, field trips or parties?
  • Is he or she withdrawing from activities and wanting to spend more time at home?

If a parent observes these signs, a doctor or mental health professional can help evaluate the child and determine if the disorder is present.

Understand parents’ role
For most young people, social phobia is successfully treated with therapy and sometimes medication. Additional support and accommodations at home can support recovery. For example, we know that some parents unknowingly contribute to a child’s condition by protecting them from situations that cause discomfort. If a teacher says “hello” and asks a child his or her name, the parent may answer: “His name is John. He’s a little shy.” The parent is stepping in to make the situation less stressful for their child, but a simple act like that can exacerbate the disorder because it does not help the child learn to manage the feelings and anxiety such an interaction invokes.

We need parents to take a look at themselves and how they are helping their child navigate their way into these sorts of everyday social interactions, rather than avoiding or going around them. Parents can be sensitive to the anxiety these situations cause without isolating their children from them. With the help of professionals, parents can learn to be exposure therapists, encouraging and supporting a child through the social situations that cause anxiety. (See how one teen overcame social anxiety disorder with the support of her mother and exposure therapy.)

The important thing to remember about social anxiety disorder is that there are effective ways of turning this around. Anxiety is a natural emotion and we all have the ability to harness it some kids just need extra help developing those skills. But when they do learn these skills, it is so heartwarming to see how their world opens up and their lives improve. It is what has kept me working in this field for almost 30 years.


I think that your clothes reflect your energy and vis versa. I believe people can tell a lot about a person’s personality by what they wear. On a personal note, I am a news reporter.

I have to go interview people on a daily basis. I noticed that when I wore a brighter color, like pink, people seemed more friendly. I don’t know how to explain it other than they would smile bigger when they saw me, joke around more and acted more freely.

Could this have just been their personality? Probably. But could it have also been that they felt less intimidated, and their brains sent out more positive signals from seeing a bright color? Potentially.

The psychology behind this theory

While in theory, it makes sense that brighter colors evoke more positive emotions, how exactly does this happen? Referring back to the HuffPost article mentioned above, Harrington says that certain colors have certain associations to them that link to how we feel and behave. “Warmer colors, brighter colors, we always talk about them being happier.

That’s because they make us feel happy when we look at them,” she said. Colors produce hormones called endorphins (the same chemical released during exercise) that make us feel energized and happy.

Colors are also associated with objects they represent that bring us certain emotions. For example, the color yellow can remind us of the sun, and invoke positive feelings.

For some, black reminds them of a funeral or something dark, and thus those emotions develop within them. Our brain makes connections that correlate colors to certain memories, and in turn, those memories bring certain emotions to the foreground.

So yes, colors can affect your mood. If not for you, they can most certainly affect someone else’s mood.

If you𠆝 like to have an extra pep in your step for the workday, try wearing some jewel-toned outfits or bright colors – you may be surprised at how you feel.


Can Smiling Really Make You Happier?

EMILY SCHERER / GETTY IMAGES

EMILY SCHERER / GETTY IMAGES

B efore we get started, do me a favor and grab a pen or a pencil. Now hold it between your teeth, as if you were about to try to write with it. Don&rsquot let your lips touch it. Sit with it, and pay attention to how you feel. Are you glum? Cheerful? Confused? Is that any different than how you felt before? Do you feel like this weird smile tricked your brain into a slight jump in happiness?

For a long time, psychologists thought exercises like this one did make us happier. If that were true, it would have implications for what emotion is, how we experience it and where emotions come from. Psychologists have believed that &ldquofacial feedback&rdquo from emotional expressions like smiling (or frowning) gives the brain information that heightens, or even sparks, an emotional experience.

It made so much sense that it was almost too good to check.

But then scientists did check. What they found poked holes in one of psychology&rsquos textbook findings &mdash which raised a whole new set of questions. Now, a huge group of scientists has banded together to try to get to the bottom of smiles, even if it means working with people who think they&rsquore wrong.

T he idea that smiling can make you feel happier has a long history. In 1872, Darwin mused about whether an emotion that was expressed would be felt more intensely than one that was repressed. Early psychologists were musing about it in the 1880s. More than a hundred studies have been published on the topic. And it&rsquos a trope of pop wisdom: &ldquoSmile, though your heart is aching,&rdquo sang Nat King Cole in 1954. &ldquoYou&rsquoll find that life is still worthwhile, if you&rsquoll just smile.&rdquo

In 1988, social psychologist Fritz Strack published a study that seemed to confirm that facial feedback was real. The researchers asked participants to do more or less what I asked you to do earlier: hold a pen in their mouths in a position that forced them either to bare their teeth in a facsimile of a smile or to purse their lips around the pen. To ensure that no one was clued in to the researchers&rsquo interest in smiles, the experimenters told participants that they were exploring how people with physical disabilities might write or perform other ordinary tasks.

When both groups were shown a set of newspaper comics &mdash specifically, illustrations from Gary Larson&rsquos The Far Side &mdash the teeth-barers rated the images as funnier than the lip-pursers did. This was a big deal for the facial feedback hypothesis: Even though participants weren&rsquot thinking about smiling or their mood, just moving their face into a smile-like shape seemed to affect their emotions. And so the finding made its way into psychology textbooks and countless news headlines. Decades of corroboration followed, as researchers published other experiments that also showed support for the facial feedback hypothesis.

But in 2016, all at once, 17 labs failed to replicate the pen study.

Those 17 studies, coordinated by Dutch psychologist E.J. Wagenmakers, repeated the original study as closely as possible to see if its result held up, with just a few changes. They found a new set of cartoons and pre-tested them to check they were about as funny as the old set. They also changed how they checked up on the participants&rsquo pen technique: The original had an experimenter watching over things, but Wagenmakers and his team filmed participants instead.

When all 17 studies failed to replicate the original result, the effect was &ldquodevastating for the emotion literature,&rdquo said Nicholas Coles, a psychology grad student whose research focuses on the facial feedback effect. &ldquoAlmost all emotion theories suggest that facial feedback should influence emotions.&rdquo While there are plenty of other methods for looking at facial feedback, many of them are more likely to make participants figure out the real purpose of the experiment, which makes their results trickier to interpret. The pen study had been solid &mdash until it wasn&rsquot.

These kinds of failed attempts to replicate other researchers&rsquo results have been piling up in psychology&rsquos &ldquoreplication crisis,&rdquo which has called the reliability of psychology&rsquos back catalogue into question. Past experiments may be unreliable because they relied on small sample sizes, buried boring or inconclusive results, or used statistical practices that make chance findings look like meaningful signals in what is really random noise. The result has been a morass of uncertainty: Which findings will hold up? And when one doesn&rsquot, what precisely does that mean?

Wagenmakers and his team are just one of the many collaborations hoping to reshape psychology in the image of more established sciences like physics and genetics, where huge international consortia are already commonplace. Some collaborations, like the &ldquoMany Labs&rdquo projects, conduct multi-lab replications similar to the attempt to confirm the pen study and cover a broad swath of famous psychology studies. Others &mdash like the ManyBabies Consortium, which conducts infant research &mdash concentrate on a niche.

Then there&rsquos the Psychological Science Accelerator, which is more focused on creating the infrastructure for collaboration, allowing its members to democratically elect studies to be run across its network of 548 labs in 72 countries. A recent paper by a group of reforming researchers called this kind of crowdsourced science one of the routes to &ldquoscientific utopia.&rdquo

A cross six multi-lab replication projects, each trying to replicate multiple studies, only 47 percent of the 190 original results were successfully replicated. The failed attempt to replicate the pen study is in good company.

But as powerful as multi-lab replication efforts like these are, they aren&rsquot necessarily the last word. When psychology tries to solve its replication crisis, it can sometimes create a crisis of a different kind, opening up a knowledge vacuum where an apparently reliable finding had previously stood.

Fritz Strack, the lead researcher on the original pen-in-mouth study from 1988, doesn&rsquot think that Wagenmakers&rsquos study tells us all that much &mdash the world is constantly changing, and re-running an old experiment could produce new results not because the idea being tested is flawed but because the experiment itself is now out of step with the times. Although he suggested the replication effort himself, and advised on the design and the materials of the study, he refused to be fully involved. Instead, he said, he wanted the freedom to comment on the problems as he saw them without pulling any punches.

When the results were released, Strack found plenty of things to critique. He was concerned that newspaper cartoons would not have packed the same humor punch these days that they did in the Midwest of the 1980s. The filming, he said, was another problem: It could be that filming made participants unusually self-conscious, affecting their experience of the task.

Strack thinks that it&rsquos a mistake to focus on testing a method rather than a hypothesis. A method that fails might have been a bad test of the hypothesis, but the hypothesis is really what counts.

In this case, the hypothesis was that facial feedback can create an emotional effect even when people aren&rsquot aware that their facial expression is an emotional one. Perhaps, Strack argued, his exact methods from the 1980s are no longer the best way to test that.

&ldquoExact&rdquo replications are impossible, he said. &ldquoThings are changing &mdash times are changing, the zeitgeist is changing, the culture is changing, the participants are changing. It&rsquos not under your control.&rdquo What if you did the pen study with memes instead of cartoons? What if you didn&rsquot use cameras? What would the differences tell us about facial feedback and when it comes into play?

Strack has been vocally critical of the credibility revolution, arguing that the term &ldquoreplication crisis&rdquo is overblown. He says he prefers to focus on arguments about the quality of the research methods, rather than the statistical framework that is at the core of the credibility revolution&rsquos concerns.

But similar critiques of massive replications come from inside the movement. Psychologist Tal Yarkoni, an ardent reformer, thinks that large-scale research efforts would do more good if they were used to test a huge array of different ways of getting at a question. A failed attempt to replicate a particular experiment doesn&rsquot really tell you anything about the underlying theory, he said all it tells you is that one particular design works or doesn&rsquot work.

Wagenmakers doesn&rsquot think his team&rsquos replication is the final word on the facial feedback theory, either. &ldquoIt&rsquos a sign of good research that additional questions are raised,&rdquo he said. But he does think a failed replication like the one he led shifts the burden of proof. Now, he says, proponents of the facial feedback hypothesis should be the ones coming to the table with new evidence. Otherwise, &ldquothe replicating team will be like a dog playing fetch,&rdquo he said. &ldquoA person throws a ball and the [replication] team brings it back, but oh, it&rsquos not quite right! I&rsquom going to throw it in another direction. &hellip It could go on forever. It&rsquos clearly not a solution to the problem.&rdquo

Multi-lab studies can look large and impressive, said psychologist Charles Ebersole, who coordinated two Many Labs projects in grad school. Even so, it&rsquos not clear how much confidence people should have in their results &mdash the studies are big, which can improve confidence in their outcomes, but they&rsquore subject to flaws and limitations just like smaller studies are. &ldquoSome people do an excellent job of not listening to [multi-lab studies] at all maybe that&rsquos the right answer? Some people bet a lot on them maybe that&rsquos the right answer? I don&rsquot know.&rdquo

The way out of the replication crisis clearly isn&rsquot brute replication alone.

W hen Wagenmakers and his colleagues published their replication study in 2016, Coles was digging deeply into the facial feedback literature. He planned to combine all of the existing literature into a giant analysis that could give a picture of the whole field. Was there really something promising going on with the facial feedback hypothesis? Or did the experiments that found a big fat zero cancel out the exciting findings? He was thrilled to be able to throw so much new data from 17 replication efforts into the pot.

He came up from his deep dive with intriguing findings: Overall, across hundreds of results, there was a small but reliable facial feedback effect. This left a new uncertainty hanging over the facial feedback hypothesis. Might there still be something going on &mdash something that Wagenmakers&rsquos replication attempt had missed?

Coles didn&rsquot think that either Wagenmakers&rsquos replication or his own study could put the matter to rest. The technique he used, called a meta-analysis, comes with its own problems. Specifically, if the studies thrown into the mix aren&rsquot great to start with, the result isn&rsquot particularly reliable &mdash or, as Coles put it, &ldquocrap in, crap out.&rdquo

So he set about designing a different kind of multi-lab collaboration. He wanted not just to replicate the original study, but to test it in a new way. And he wanted to test it in a way that would convince both the skeptics and those who still stood by the original result. He started to pull together a large team of researchers that included Strack. He also asked Phoebe Ellsworth, a researcher who was testing the facial feedback effect as far back as the 1970s, to come on board as a critic.

This partnership founded in disagreement is meant to get the game of fetch out of the way before the study even gets off the ground. Coles&rsquos group, called the Many Smiles Collaboration, is far from the only one using this tactic although some massive collaborations try to replicate old studies as closely as possible, others choose to workshop a new experiment methodology in excruciating detail before pulling the trigger. Ideally, this means that everyone will be convinced by the results, regardless of what they were personally rooting for or expecting. &ldquoIt isn&rsquot groupthink,&rdquo said Coles. &ldquoWe&rsquore actually trying to get at the truth.&rdquo

The Many Smiles Collaboration is based on the pen study from 1988, but with considerable tweaking. Through a lengthy back-and-forth between collaborators, peer reviewers and the journal editor, the team has refined the original plan, eventually arriving at a method that everyone agrees is a good test of the hypothesis. If it finds no effect, said Strack, &ldquothat would be a strong argument that maybe the facial feedback hypothesis is not true.&rdquo

An early pilot of the Many Smiles study indicated that the hypothesis might not be on its last legs just yet: The results suggested that smiling can affect feelings of happiness. Later this year, all the collaborators will kick into gear to see if the pilot&rsquos findings can be repeated across 21 labs in 19 countries. If they find the same results, will that be enough to convince even the skeptics that it&rsquos not just a fluke?

Well &hellip maybe. A study like Wagenmakers&rsquos sounds, in principle, like enough to lay a scientific question to rest, but it wasn&rsquot. A study like Coles&rsquos sounds like it could be definitive too, but it probably won&rsquot be. Even Big Science can&rsquot make science simple. &ldquoI&rsquom still a little unsure, even though I&rsquove now replicated the effects successfully in my own labs,&rdquo said Coles. &ldquoI&rsquoll hold my breath until the full data set comes in.&rdquo


Smiling and Mental Adjustment

Smiling has also been associated with personal psychological benefits, too. In particular, smiling seems to help people deal with negative emotional events.

One study considered a group of people who recently lost someone they loved. All of these participants briefly spoke about their relationship with the person who had recently passed away. Researchers observed video of these interviews and analyzed them for signs of genuine smiling and/or laughing. They followed up with the participants later and found that the more they smiled or laughed as they talked about their deceased partner, the better they were managing their grief 25 months after the person passed away.

Another study showed that students who smiled more during a speech were better able to cope with negative emotions and showed less distress over a 2-year period.


The Ambiguous Smile

S ome people smile up to 50 times a day, and I might be one of them. I was born in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, and my favorite childhood song was about how “a smile can make a gloomy day brighter,” fostering friendship and warmth all over the world.

Growing up, I genuinely believed in the power of the smile, and by my teenage years, firmly adopted smiling as a personal philosophy, a proud mark of a person determined to be happy.

I lived with this notion for 28 years, until last year, I stumbled upon a particular paragraph in Jane Goodall’s book about the conservation of chimpanzees in Tanzania. Goodall described Melissa, a socially anxious chimpanzee that regularly tried to ingratiate herself with superiors, reaching out to touch any passing adult male. When the male turned toward her, Melissa “drew her lips back into a submissive grin.”

Goodall went on to describe the meaning behind the scene and explained that although the smile is considered to be our “happy face,” most certainly, it originated from a defensive reflex that showed others that you don’t dare to challenge them. I remember thinking: Should I smile less?

Not that I was utterly clueless about the hazards of smiling.

At 18, I visited New York for the first time, instantly fell in love with its architecture, and spent much of the trip wandering around downtown Manhattan, mesmerized how one epoch spilled into another right on the facades of buildings.

One evening, I decided to walk from Chinatown to South Ferry. When I emerged from the Canal Street subway station, a young man caught up to me I recognized him from the subway car.

He approached me and, clearly enunciating every word, said: “Do you want to have sex with me?”

I ran his words once again in my mind to make sure there was no misunderstanding. Then, I stuttered: “Thanks, no,” and walked away as briskly as possible without breaking into a run. For the rest of the evening, I kept wondering what has prompted him to believe that I might want to have sex with him.

Only one possible explanation came into my mind. On the subway, when our eyes first met, I did what I usually do: briefly — for a split second — smiled at him before looking away. In my opinion, being polite and smiling at strangers is the simplest thing you can contribute to making the world a brighter place. He saw it differently. I decided to be more careful with smiling at New Yorkers.

Ten years later, reading Goodall’s book, I grew curious: What else was there that I didn’t know about smiling?

The scientific history of a smile started around the 1850s when a French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne decided to find how muscles in the human face create facial expressions. He jolted particular muscles with tiny electroshocks. The procedure was so painful that the scientist had to experiment on guillotined heads of criminals until he found a man with facial insensitivity.

Among other things, Duchenne discovered that orbicularis oculi, a muscle that controls eyelids, distinguishes a spontaneous — “genuine” — smile, crinkling the skin around the eyes into crow’s feet wrinkles. To this day, researchers call this smile “Duchenne,” in contrast to a posed — “Pan Am,” or lately, “Botox” — smile, which simply curves the mouth. Charles Darwin cited Duchenne’s work in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, noting that a smile can be both joyful and derisive.

This marked the onset of a great scientific journey to decipher hidden meanings behind the facial gesture. With time, biologists, psychologists, and sociologists discovered that the curvy facial gesture is innate and labeled as a positive emotion in every studied culture.

In the 20th century, hundreds of studies explored why people smile.

Many papers open with Herman Melville’s quote: “A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.” By the end of the century, researchers still argued whether to consider it as a readout of underlying emotions or a tool people use to project sociability and desire to cooperate. Ingeniously designed studies often only added more controversy. The research continues to this day.

Yet one aspect was consistent in every single research: women smile more than men.

It wasn’t merely a matter of cultural differences, which are vast. For example, American and Canadian people smile more often and more intensely than Chinese or British. One theory suggests that smiling can represent not what people actually feel, but how they want to feel, which psychologists call “ideal affect.”

Different cultures value different emotions. Americans want to feel excited, whereas the Chinese want to feel peaceful. Their smiles reflect the difference. Another theory suggests that ethnic diversity is key.

People in countries with a rich history of migration, such as the US, might smile more often and more intensely because they had to develop clearer nonverbal signals to foster better understanding between people with different cultural backgrounds.

And yet — women tended to smile more in every culture and setting: when winning Olympic gold medals, when asked to butcher a rat, when asked inappropriate questions (96% of women did that I guess I would be one of them). Why? Smiling turns out to be a big part of what sociologists call “doing gender:” performing prescribed gender roles. Two defining features of gender stereotypes are care and dominance. Women are expected to be caring, sensitive, and emotional men — confident, decisive, and strong.

These expectations play out like self-fulfilling prophecies, reinforcing ideas about how we should behave. Some nonverbal behaviors got linked with gender. Think about crying. A study from as late as 2013 showed that despite the change in explicit norms, in an office setting, crying men were judged more negatively than crying women.

Experiments confirmed that women are not more emotional but more expressive, especially when it comes to positive emotions. Presumably, in the course of evolution, women learned to smile copiously to bond with their mates and children through positive emotion. Expressivity, taken as a sign of emotionality, was labeled feminine.

Women, even when they don’t feel much, are encouraged to look and sound as if they are — “Oh my God! That’s fabulous! I’m so excited!” — or face being called cold, depressed, and passive-aggressive.

Smiling is a part of “emotional labor” efforts to create positive and alleviate feelings. In terms of power, being “emotional” plays a different role. Smiling inhibits the display of dominance and gravity. It relates to “low-power” roles.

O ne study showed that smiling men are considered to be less efficient. Another proved that smiling during interviews for particular jobs, like a newspaper reporter, for example, can decrease the chances of being hired.

Being serious is masculine. Smiling, as its perceived opposite, is feminine. From a male perspective, the gesture seems more straightforward. When a woman smiles, men tend to consider it a sign of flirting, even when it has nothing to do with sexual intention. Women are more likely to perceive more nuances and distinguish happy, nervous, embarrassed, or fake smiles. These findings might feel obvious, but only because, gender norms are so omnipresent that we don’t even register them.

Infant boys and girls smile the same, but they are quick to pick up on the expectations of the people around them. By the age of 11, most children intuitively learn how expressive they should be. The cusp of adolescence is the last time boys and girls smile at the same frequency until they hit 65. The same process that teaches girls to grin more teaches boys to hide their emotions. From then on, the difference in smiling is minimal only when people are alone. But there is a catch.

The moment a woman imagines the presence of someone she knows, she starts smiling more as if playing to an unseen audience.

On March 8th, 2017, American women went on a national “Day Without a Woman” strike. Those who couldn’t skip work could show their solidarity by striking from unpaid labor: cooking, cleaning, and smiling, acknowledged as a form of emotional labor. Coincidentally, three years later, on March 9th, 2020, I decided to run an experiment and not smile for a day too. The experiment took place in New York City, where I had moved for a graduate program.

It was a fiasco. I caught myself smiling to a security guard who, in two years, never failed to ignore my greeting, not to mention smiling back. I smiled at an acquaintance I didn’t like. At a salesman at a soup shop. At a greeter in a Muji store. At a stranger who held a door for me.

I incessantly grinned for the sake of nothing even as I tried to stay stone-faced. By the end of the day, I was painfully conscious of the slightest twitches of my face muscles, exhausted from attempts to hold them rigid. But the failure made me curious. I decided to extend the experiment for a couple more days. That week, I noticed not only how hard it was to fight an urge to smile, but also how many people don’t smile back.

I became aware of all the different smiles I have: happy, anxious, embarrassed, polite, reassuring, sad, and even mean.

By day five, I got much better at holding a straight face. People didn’t seem to notice the change except for my boyfriend, who decided that I had gotten depressed and wouldn’t let me be until I confessed the experiment.

F eminists aren’t the only women who tried to abstain from this gesture. In 2015, the British media wrote about Tess Christian, a 50-year-old woman who hadn’t smiled or laughed since her teenage years.

She was battling not patriarchy but wrinkles, partially inspired by Marlene Dietrich’s poker-face glamour. However, over the years, Christian developed a pet peeve: men who kept urging her to cheer up. She remained undeterred. The woman didn’t smile even when her daughter was born. By then, a deadpan expression was second nature to her, and she could be happy without smiling. I doubt I could do the same.

Psychologists claim that smiling is crucial for mental health. It invokes a surge of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, like as if you ate a dessert or had a tiny orgasm. Laughter therapy helps fight depression and cancer, and smiley people tend to be happier, live longer, and appear more attractive and trustworthy to others (although less competent).

In a 1988 study, psychologist Fritz Strack and his colleagues asked students of the University of Illinois to watch a cartoon, holding a felt-tipped marker in their mouth. One group clutched it between their teeth, forcing a grin, while another gripped it with their lips, forcing a frown. The students didn’t realize they were smiling or pouting: they thought the experiment was exploring how the impaired used their mouth to write. Yet the “grinning” group found the cartoon funnier.

The study became exemplar in supporting the hypothesis that our facial expressions affect our moods (in a 2016 series of experiments, the findings failed to replicate, but another study in 2018 found that a discrepancy in methods was a possible reason for the failure).

Smiling itself can make you happier — but only if it is genuine.

In a 2019 study, psychologists from Penn State and University at Buffalo interviewed 1,592 American employees who offer “service with a smile” daily, including baristas, cashiers, sales associates, nurses, and teachers. The study showed that service workers are more likely to drink heavily after work: more than four to five drinks at a time and to intoxication. Researchers suggested that the more people do “surface acting” — amplifying, faking, or suppressing felt emotions to appear positive — the more it depletes their capacity for later self-control.

E motional labor taxes the psyche. Years after I first asked myself whether I should smile less, I still mull over this question. I haven’t quite figured how to live with all the knowledge I acquired trying to find a proper answer. My failed experiment was a crucial exercise that made me conscious of all the energy I spend taking care of other people’s reactions to my face. Now, I can’t help noticing how people ignore and misinterpret my smiling.

I wonder whether I would feel less burdened by humanity or, on the contrary, more miserable if I could give up smiling. But I figured that just as some people have a “resting bitch face,” others have a “resting smiling face,” and be it by habit or natural disposition, the corners of my lips tend to creep upward.


4- They Are Always There To Help

They take it as an honour to be of any help to you. They are happy knowing that they crossed your mind when you were in need of something. Makes them feel like they do have a role to play in your life. They will go out of their way just to make sure that they can fix something for you. Can you recall a person who you call every time you have a terrible mood swing and they show up at your doorsteps with some ice cream? Someone, you call at 3 am just to vent out? Well, you should start taking hints. Not every day do you come across a person who is willing to be there with you through thick and thin? Who rather takes pride in being able to help you?


Smiling and Mental Adjustment

Smiling has also been associated with personal psychological benefits, too. In particular, smiling seems to help people deal with negative emotional events.

One study considered a group of people who recently lost someone they loved. All of these participants briefly spoke about their relationship with the person who had recently passed away. Researchers observed video of these interviews and analyzed them for signs of genuine smiling and/or laughing. They followed up with the participants later and found that the more they smiled or laughed as they talked about their deceased partner, the better they were managing their grief 25 months after the person passed away.

Another study showed that students who smiled more during a speech were better able to cope with negative emotions and showed less distress over a 2-year period.


The Ambiguous Smile

S ome people smile up to 50 times a day, and I might be one of them. I was born in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, and my favorite childhood song was about how “a smile can make a gloomy day brighter,” fostering friendship and warmth all over the world.

Growing up, I genuinely believed in the power of the smile, and by my teenage years, firmly adopted smiling as a personal philosophy, a proud mark of a person determined to be happy.

I lived with this notion for 28 years, until last year, I stumbled upon a particular paragraph in Jane Goodall’s book about the conservation of chimpanzees in Tanzania. Goodall described Melissa, a socially anxious chimpanzee that regularly tried to ingratiate herself with superiors, reaching out to touch any passing adult male. When the male turned toward her, Melissa “drew her lips back into a submissive grin.”

Goodall went on to describe the meaning behind the scene and explained that although the smile is considered to be our “happy face,” most certainly, it originated from a defensive reflex that showed others that you don’t dare to challenge them. I remember thinking: Should I smile less?

Not that I was utterly clueless about the hazards of smiling.

At 18, I visited New York for the first time, instantly fell in love with its architecture, and spent much of the trip wandering around downtown Manhattan, mesmerized how one epoch spilled into another right on the facades of buildings.

One evening, I decided to walk from Chinatown to South Ferry. When I emerged from the Canal Street subway station, a young man caught up to me I recognized him from the subway car.

He approached me and, clearly enunciating every word, said: “Do you want to have sex with me?”

I ran his words once again in my mind to make sure there was no misunderstanding. Then, I stuttered: “Thanks, no,” and walked away as briskly as possible without breaking into a run. For the rest of the evening, I kept wondering what has prompted him to believe that I might want to have sex with him.

Only one possible explanation came into my mind. On the subway, when our eyes first met, I did what I usually do: briefly — for a split second — smiled at him before looking away. In my opinion, being polite and smiling at strangers is the simplest thing you can contribute to making the world a brighter place. He saw it differently. I decided to be more careful with smiling at New Yorkers.

Ten years later, reading Goodall’s book, I grew curious: What else was there that I didn’t know about smiling?

The scientific history of a smile started around the 1850s when a French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne decided to find how muscles in the human face create facial expressions. He jolted particular muscles with tiny electroshocks. The procedure was so painful that the scientist had to experiment on guillotined heads of criminals until he found a man with facial insensitivity.

Among other things, Duchenne discovered that orbicularis oculi, a muscle that controls eyelids, distinguishes a spontaneous — “genuine” — smile, crinkling the skin around the eyes into crow’s feet wrinkles. To this day, researchers call this smile “Duchenne,” in contrast to a posed — “Pan Am,” or lately, “Botox” — smile, which simply curves the mouth. Charles Darwin cited Duchenne’s work in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, noting that a smile can be both joyful and derisive.

This marked the onset of a great scientific journey to decipher hidden meanings behind the facial gesture. With time, biologists, psychologists, and sociologists discovered that the curvy facial gesture is innate and labeled as a positive emotion in every studied culture.

In the 20th century, hundreds of studies explored why people smile.

Many papers open with Herman Melville’s quote: “A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.” By the end of the century, researchers still argued whether to consider it as a readout of underlying emotions or a tool people use to project sociability and desire to cooperate. Ingeniously designed studies often only added more controversy. The research continues to this day.

Yet one aspect was consistent in every single research: women smile more than men.

It wasn’t merely a matter of cultural differences, which are vast. For example, American and Canadian people smile more often and more intensely than Chinese or British. One theory suggests that smiling can represent not what people actually feel, but how they want to feel, which psychologists call “ideal affect.”

Different cultures value different emotions. Americans want to feel excited, whereas the Chinese want to feel peaceful. Their smiles reflect the difference. Another theory suggests that ethnic diversity is key.

People in countries with a rich history of migration, such as the US, might smile more often and more intensely because they had to develop clearer nonverbal signals to foster better understanding between people with different cultural backgrounds.

And yet — women tended to smile more in every culture and setting: when winning Olympic gold medals, when asked to butcher a rat, when asked inappropriate questions (96% of women did that I guess I would be one of them). Why? Smiling turns out to be a big part of what sociologists call “doing gender:” performing prescribed gender roles. Two defining features of gender stereotypes are care and dominance. Women are expected to be caring, sensitive, and emotional men — confident, decisive, and strong.

These expectations play out like self-fulfilling prophecies, reinforcing ideas about how we should behave. Some nonverbal behaviors got linked with gender. Think about crying. A study from as late as 2013 showed that despite the change in explicit norms, in an office setting, crying men were judged more negatively than crying women.

Experiments confirmed that women are not more emotional but more expressive, especially when it comes to positive emotions. Presumably, in the course of evolution, women learned to smile copiously to bond with their mates and children through positive emotion. Expressivity, taken as a sign of emotionality, was labeled feminine.

Women, even when they don’t feel much, are encouraged to look and sound as if they are — “Oh my God! That’s fabulous! I’m so excited!” — or face being called cold, depressed, and passive-aggressive.

Smiling is a part of “emotional labor” efforts to create positive and alleviate feelings. In terms of power, being “emotional” plays a different role. Smiling inhibits the display of dominance and gravity. It relates to “low-power” roles.

O ne study showed that smiling men are considered to be less efficient. Another proved that smiling during interviews for particular jobs, like a newspaper reporter, for example, can decrease the chances of being hired.

Being serious is masculine. Smiling, as its perceived opposite, is feminine. From a male perspective, the gesture seems more straightforward. When a woman smiles, men tend to consider it a sign of flirting, even when it has nothing to do with sexual intention. Women are more likely to perceive more nuances and distinguish happy, nervous, embarrassed, or fake smiles. These findings might feel obvious, but only because, gender norms are so omnipresent that we don’t even register them.

Infant boys and girls smile the same, but they are quick to pick up on the expectations of the people around them. By the age of 11, most children intuitively learn how expressive they should be. The cusp of adolescence is the last time boys and girls smile at the same frequency until they hit 65. The same process that teaches girls to grin more teaches boys to hide their emotions. From then on, the difference in smiling is minimal only when people are alone. But there is a catch.

The moment a woman imagines the presence of someone she knows, she starts smiling more as if playing to an unseen audience.

On March 8th, 2017, American women went on a national “Day Without a Woman” strike. Those who couldn’t skip work could show their solidarity by striking from unpaid labor: cooking, cleaning, and smiling, acknowledged as a form of emotional labor. Coincidentally, three years later, on March 9th, 2020, I decided to run an experiment and not smile for a day too. The experiment took place in New York City, where I had moved for a graduate program.

It was a fiasco. I caught myself smiling to a security guard who, in two years, never failed to ignore my greeting, not to mention smiling back. I smiled at an acquaintance I didn’t like. At a salesman at a soup shop. At a greeter in a Muji store. At a stranger who held a door for me.

I incessantly grinned for the sake of nothing even as I tried to stay stone-faced. By the end of the day, I was painfully conscious of the slightest twitches of my face muscles, exhausted from attempts to hold them rigid. But the failure made me curious. I decided to extend the experiment for a couple more days. That week, I noticed not only how hard it was to fight an urge to smile, but also how many people don’t smile back.

I became aware of all the different smiles I have: happy, anxious, embarrassed, polite, reassuring, sad, and even mean.

By day five, I got much better at holding a straight face. People didn’t seem to notice the change except for my boyfriend, who decided that I had gotten depressed and wouldn’t let me be until I confessed the experiment.

F eminists aren’t the only women who tried to abstain from this gesture. In 2015, the British media wrote about Tess Christian, a 50-year-old woman who hadn’t smiled or laughed since her teenage years.

She was battling not patriarchy but wrinkles, partially inspired by Marlene Dietrich’s poker-face glamour. However, over the years, Christian developed a pet peeve: men who kept urging her to cheer up. She remained undeterred. The woman didn’t smile even when her daughter was born. By then, a deadpan expression was second nature to her, and she could be happy without smiling. I doubt I could do the same.

Psychologists claim that smiling is crucial for mental health. It invokes a surge of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, like as if you ate a dessert or had a tiny orgasm. Laughter therapy helps fight depression and cancer, and smiley people tend to be happier, live longer, and appear more attractive and trustworthy to others (although less competent).

In a 1988 study, psychologist Fritz Strack and his colleagues asked students of the University of Illinois to watch a cartoon, holding a felt-tipped marker in their mouth. One group clutched it between their teeth, forcing a grin, while another gripped it with their lips, forcing a frown. The students didn’t realize they were smiling or pouting: they thought the experiment was exploring how the impaired used their mouth to write. Yet the “grinning” group found the cartoon funnier.

The study became exemplar in supporting the hypothesis that our facial expressions affect our moods (in a 2016 series of experiments, the findings failed to replicate, but another study in 2018 found that a discrepancy in methods was a possible reason for the failure).

Smiling itself can make you happier — but only if it is genuine.

In a 2019 study, psychologists from Penn State and University at Buffalo interviewed 1,592 American employees who offer “service with a smile” daily, including baristas, cashiers, sales associates, nurses, and teachers. The study showed that service workers are more likely to drink heavily after work: more than four to five drinks at a time and to intoxication. Researchers suggested that the more people do “surface acting” — amplifying, faking, or suppressing felt emotions to appear positive — the more it depletes their capacity for later self-control.

E motional labor taxes the psyche. Years after I first asked myself whether I should smile less, I still mull over this question. I haven’t quite figured how to live with all the knowledge I acquired trying to find a proper answer. My failed experiment was a crucial exercise that made me conscious of all the energy I spend taking care of other people’s reactions to my face. Now, I can’t help noticing how people ignore and misinterpret my smiling.

I wonder whether I would feel less burdened by humanity or, on the contrary, more miserable if I could give up smiling. But I figured that just as some people have a “resting bitch face,” others have a “resting smiling face,” and be it by habit or natural disposition, the corners of my lips tend to creep upward.


01. Red

Passionate, aggressive, important

As a dominating colour, red adds gravity and heightened awareness &ndash quite literally, as the colour increases blood circulation, breathing rates, and metabolism.

Red can take on a variety of meanings, associated with both love and war, but the unifying factor in all meanings is a sense of importance. Think of the red carpet.

Red is a colour best used cautiously. Its knack for attracting attention makes it a priceless tool for designers, but used excessively it will inhibit relaxation. Lighter shades emphasise the energetic aspects of red &ndash including youthfulness &ndash while darker shades emphasise power, and even durability, such as a brick wall.

The landing page for the game design company Playtika has an aggressive but potent flair. Playful and stimulating, the red suits the cheetah logo &ndash a powerful icon itself, softened by its cartoonish qualities and anthropomorphic smile.


I think that your clothes reflect your energy and vis versa. I believe people can tell a lot about a person’s personality by what they wear. On a personal note, I am a news reporter.

I have to go interview people on a daily basis. I noticed that when I wore a brighter color, like pink, people seemed more friendly. I don’t know how to explain it other than they would smile bigger when they saw me, joke around more and acted more freely.

Could this have just been their personality? Probably. But could it have also been that they felt less intimidated, and their brains sent out more positive signals from seeing a bright color? Potentially.

The psychology behind this theory

While in theory, it makes sense that brighter colors evoke more positive emotions, how exactly does this happen? Referring back to the HuffPost article mentioned above, Harrington says that certain colors have certain associations to them that link to how we feel and behave. “Warmer colors, brighter colors, we always talk about them being happier.

That’s because they make us feel happy when we look at them,” she said. Colors produce hormones called endorphins (the same chemical released during exercise) that make us feel energized and happy.

Colors are also associated with objects they represent that bring us certain emotions. For example, the color yellow can remind us of the sun, and invoke positive feelings.

For some, black reminds them of a funeral or something dark, and thus those emotions develop within them. Our brain makes connections that correlate colors to certain memories, and in turn, those memories bring certain emotions to the foreground.

So yes, colors can affect your mood. If not for you, they can most certainly affect someone else’s mood.

If you𠆝 like to have an extra pep in your step for the workday, try wearing some jewel-toned outfits or bright colors – you may be surprised at how you feel.


Can Smiling Really Make You Happier?

EMILY SCHERER / GETTY IMAGES

EMILY SCHERER / GETTY IMAGES

B efore we get started, do me a favor and grab a pen or a pencil. Now hold it between your teeth, as if you were about to try to write with it. Don&rsquot let your lips touch it. Sit with it, and pay attention to how you feel. Are you glum? Cheerful? Confused? Is that any different than how you felt before? Do you feel like this weird smile tricked your brain into a slight jump in happiness?

For a long time, psychologists thought exercises like this one did make us happier. If that were true, it would have implications for what emotion is, how we experience it and where emotions come from. Psychologists have believed that &ldquofacial feedback&rdquo from emotional expressions like smiling (or frowning) gives the brain information that heightens, or even sparks, an emotional experience.

It made so much sense that it was almost too good to check.

But then scientists did check. What they found poked holes in one of psychology&rsquos textbook findings &mdash which raised a whole new set of questions. Now, a huge group of scientists has banded together to try to get to the bottom of smiles, even if it means working with people who think they&rsquore wrong.

T he idea that smiling can make you feel happier has a long history. In 1872, Darwin mused about whether an emotion that was expressed would be felt more intensely than one that was repressed. Early psychologists were musing about it in the 1880s. More than a hundred studies have been published on the topic. And it&rsquos a trope of pop wisdom: &ldquoSmile, though your heart is aching,&rdquo sang Nat King Cole in 1954. &ldquoYou&rsquoll find that life is still worthwhile, if you&rsquoll just smile.&rdquo

In 1988, social psychologist Fritz Strack published a study that seemed to confirm that facial feedback was real. The researchers asked participants to do more or less what I asked you to do earlier: hold a pen in their mouths in a position that forced them either to bare their teeth in a facsimile of a smile or to purse their lips around the pen. To ensure that no one was clued in to the researchers&rsquo interest in smiles, the experimenters told participants that they were exploring how people with physical disabilities might write or perform other ordinary tasks.

When both groups were shown a set of newspaper comics &mdash specifically, illustrations from Gary Larson&rsquos The Far Side &mdash the teeth-barers rated the images as funnier than the lip-pursers did. This was a big deal for the facial feedback hypothesis: Even though participants weren&rsquot thinking about smiling or their mood, just moving their face into a smile-like shape seemed to affect their emotions. And so the finding made its way into psychology textbooks and countless news headlines. Decades of corroboration followed, as researchers published other experiments that also showed support for the facial feedback hypothesis.

But in 2016, all at once, 17 labs failed to replicate the pen study.

Those 17 studies, coordinated by Dutch psychologist E.J. Wagenmakers, repeated the original study as closely as possible to see if its result held up, with just a few changes. They found a new set of cartoons and pre-tested them to check they were about as funny as the old set. They also changed how they checked up on the participants&rsquo pen technique: The original had an experimenter watching over things, but Wagenmakers and his team filmed participants instead.

When all 17 studies failed to replicate the original result, the effect was &ldquodevastating for the emotion literature,&rdquo said Nicholas Coles, a psychology grad student whose research focuses on the facial feedback effect. &ldquoAlmost all emotion theories suggest that facial feedback should influence emotions.&rdquo While there are plenty of other methods for looking at facial feedback, many of them are more likely to make participants figure out the real purpose of the experiment, which makes their results trickier to interpret. The pen study had been solid &mdash until it wasn&rsquot.

These kinds of failed attempts to replicate other researchers&rsquo results have been piling up in psychology&rsquos &ldquoreplication crisis,&rdquo which has called the reliability of psychology&rsquos back catalogue into question. Past experiments may be unreliable because they relied on small sample sizes, buried boring or inconclusive results, or used statistical practices that make chance findings look like meaningful signals in what is really random noise. The result has been a morass of uncertainty: Which findings will hold up? And when one doesn&rsquot, what precisely does that mean?

Wagenmakers and his team are just one of the many collaborations hoping to reshape psychology in the image of more established sciences like physics and genetics, where huge international consortia are already commonplace. Some collaborations, like the &ldquoMany Labs&rdquo projects, conduct multi-lab replications similar to the attempt to confirm the pen study and cover a broad swath of famous psychology studies. Others &mdash like the ManyBabies Consortium, which conducts infant research &mdash concentrate on a niche.

Then there&rsquos the Psychological Science Accelerator, which is more focused on creating the infrastructure for collaboration, allowing its members to democratically elect studies to be run across its network of 548 labs in 72 countries. A recent paper by a group of reforming researchers called this kind of crowdsourced science one of the routes to &ldquoscientific utopia.&rdquo

A cross six multi-lab replication projects, each trying to replicate multiple studies, only 47 percent of the 190 original results were successfully replicated. The failed attempt to replicate the pen study is in good company.

But as powerful as multi-lab replication efforts like these are, they aren&rsquot necessarily the last word. When psychology tries to solve its replication crisis, it can sometimes create a crisis of a different kind, opening up a knowledge vacuum where an apparently reliable finding had previously stood.

Fritz Strack, the lead researcher on the original pen-in-mouth study from 1988, doesn&rsquot think that Wagenmakers&rsquos study tells us all that much &mdash the world is constantly changing, and re-running an old experiment could produce new results not because the idea being tested is flawed but because the experiment itself is now out of step with the times. Although he suggested the replication effort himself, and advised on the design and the materials of the study, he refused to be fully involved. Instead, he said, he wanted the freedom to comment on the problems as he saw them without pulling any punches.

When the results were released, Strack found plenty of things to critique. He was concerned that newspaper cartoons would not have packed the same humor punch these days that they did in the Midwest of the 1980s. The filming, he said, was another problem: It could be that filming made participants unusually self-conscious, affecting their experience of the task.

Strack thinks that it&rsquos a mistake to focus on testing a method rather than a hypothesis. A method that fails might have been a bad test of the hypothesis, but the hypothesis is really what counts.

In this case, the hypothesis was that facial feedback can create an emotional effect even when people aren&rsquot aware that their facial expression is an emotional one. Perhaps, Strack argued, his exact methods from the 1980s are no longer the best way to test that.

&ldquoExact&rdquo replications are impossible, he said. &ldquoThings are changing &mdash times are changing, the zeitgeist is changing, the culture is changing, the participants are changing. It&rsquos not under your control.&rdquo What if you did the pen study with memes instead of cartoons? What if you didn&rsquot use cameras? What would the differences tell us about facial feedback and when it comes into play?

Strack has been vocally critical of the credibility revolution, arguing that the term &ldquoreplication crisis&rdquo is overblown. He says he prefers to focus on arguments about the quality of the research methods, rather than the statistical framework that is at the core of the credibility revolution&rsquos concerns.

But similar critiques of massive replications come from inside the movement. Psychologist Tal Yarkoni, an ardent reformer, thinks that large-scale research efforts would do more good if they were used to test a huge array of different ways of getting at a question. A failed attempt to replicate a particular experiment doesn&rsquot really tell you anything about the underlying theory, he said all it tells you is that one particular design works or doesn&rsquot work.

Wagenmakers doesn&rsquot think his team&rsquos replication is the final word on the facial feedback theory, either. &ldquoIt&rsquos a sign of good research that additional questions are raised,&rdquo he said. But he does think a failed replication like the one he led shifts the burden of proof. Now, he says, proponents of the facial feedback hypothesis should be the ones coming to the table with new evidence. Otherwise, &ldquothe replicating team will be like a dog playing fetch,&rdquo he said. &ldquoA person throws a ball and the [replication] team brings it back, but oh, it&rsquos not quite right! I&rsquom going to throw it in another direction. &hellip It could go on forever. It&rsquos clearly not a solution to the problem.&rdquo

Multi-lab studies can look large and impressive, said psychologist Charles Ebersole, who coordinated two Many Labs projects in grad school. Even so, it&rsquos not clear how much confidence people should have in their results &mdash the studies are big, which can improve confidence in their outcomes, but they&rsquore subject to flaws and limitations just like smaller studies are. &ldquoSome people do an excellent job of not listening to [multi-lab studies] at all maybe that&rsquos the right answer? Some people bet a lot on them maybe that&rsquos the right answer? I don&rsquot know.&rdquo

The way out of the replication crisis clearly isn&rsquot brute replication alone.

W hen Wagenmakers and his colleagues published their replication study in 2016, Coles was digging deeply into the facial feedback literature. He planned to combine all of the existing literature into a giant analysis that could give a picture of the whole field. Was there really something promising going on with the facial feedback hypothesis? Or did the experiments that found a big fat zero cancel out the exciting findings? He was thrilled to be able to throw so much new data from 17 replication efforts into the pot.

He came up from his deep dive with intriguing findings: Overall, across hundreds of results, there was a small but reliable facial feedback effect. This left a new uncertainty hanging over the facial feedback hypothesis. Might there still be something going on &mdash something that Wagenmakers&rsquos replication attempt had missed?

Coles didn&rsquot think that either Wagenmakers&rsquos replication or his own study could put the matter to rest. The technique he used, called a meta-analysis, comes with its own problems. Specifically, if the studies thrown into the mix aren&rsquot great to start with, the result isn&rsquot particularly reliable &mdash or, as Coles put it, &ldquocrap in, crap out.&rdquo

So he set about designing a different kind of multi-lab collaboration. He wanted not just to replicate the original study, but to test it in a new way. And he wanted to test it in a way that would convince both the skeptics and those who still stood by the original result. He started to pull together a large team of researchers that included Strack. He also asked Phoebe Ellsworth, a researcher who was testing the facial feedback effect as far back as the 1970s, to come on board as a critic.

This partnership founded in disagreement is meant to get the game of fetch out of the way before the study even gets off the ground. Coles&rsquos group, called the Many Smiles Collaboration, is far from the only one using this tactic although some massive collaborations try to replicate old studies as closely as possible, others choose to workshop a new experiment methodology in excruciating detail before pulling the trigger. Ideally, this means that everyone will be convinced by the results, regardless of what they were personally rooting for or expecting. &ldquoIt isn&rsquot groupthink,&rdquo said Coles. &ldquoWe&rsquore actually trying to get at the truth.&rdquo

The Many Smiles Collaboration is based on the pen study from 1988, but with considerable tweaking. Through a lengthy back-and-forth between collaborators, peer reviewers and the journal editor, the team has refined the original plan, eventually arriving at a method that everyone agrees is a good test of the hypothesis. If it finds no effect, said Strack, &ldquothat would be a strong argument that maybe the facial feedback hypothesis is not true.&rdquo

An early pilot of the Many Smiles study indicated that the hypothesis might not be on its last legs just yet: The results suggested that smiling can affect feelings of happiness. Later this year, all the collaborators will kick into gear to see if the pilot&rsquos findings can be repeated across 21 labs in 19 countries. If they find the same results, will that be enough to convince even the skeptics that it&rsquos not just a fluke?

Well &hellip maybe. A study like Wagenmakers&rsquos sounds, in principle, like enough to lay a scientific question to rest, but it wasn&rsquot. A study like Coles&rsquos sounds like it could be definitive too, but it probably won&rsquot be. Even Big Science can&rsquot make science simple. &ldquoI&rsquom still a little unsure, even though I&rsquove now replicated the effects successfully in my own labs,&rdquo said Coles. &ldquoI&rsquoll hold my breath until the full data set comes in.&rdquo


When Young People Suffer Social Anxiety Disorder: What Parents Can Do

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, can have a crippling effect on young people. Children who avoid raising their hand or speaking up in school can become tweens who withdraw from extracurricular activities, and then teens who experience isolation and depression. In fact, children with social anxiety disorder are more likely than their peers without SAD to develop depression by age 15 and substance abuse by age 16 or 17.

As they head toward adulthood, young people with social anxiety disorder tend to choose paths that require less involvement with other people, and so cut short a lot of opportunities. Bright, intelligent young people who have yearnings to be lawyers or doctors, but cannot interact with other people, may choose a profession or work that is very solitary or they might not enter the work force at all.

Understanding that social phobia is a gateway disorder to depression, substance abuse, and lifetime impairment, we must make it a priority to identify it when children are younger. If we can reach children in the early stages of the disorder, we can provide them basic skills to help them manage their feelings and increase their ability to interact with people.

Parents play an important role in identifying and helping children overcome social anxiety. Learning to distinguish a shy child from one with social phobia, and understanding how parents can empower—rather than enable—children with social anxiety will help our children live full, socially rich lives.

Recognizing the “silent disorder”
Social anxiety disorder is sometimes called a silent disorder because it can affect children for years before it is diagnosed. As children grow and mature, they learn how to avoid being the focus of attention at school or home as a result, their extreme discomfort in social situations can go unnoticed.

Because children with social phobia are generally content and compliant around home, and because parents do not receive reports of misbehavior at school, many families fail to recognize a problem until their child is already withdrawn from activities and peers. By this point, the child may be experiencing extreme isolation and falling behind developmentally and academically.

Sometimes social phobia goes undiagnosed because parents confuse it with shyness. Shyness is a temperament it is not debilitating the way social anxiety disorder is. A shy child may take longer to warm up to a situation, but they eventually do. Also, a shy child engages with other kids, just at a different level of intensity than their peers. In contrast, children with social phobia will get very upset when they have to interact with people. It is a frightening situation for them, and one they would rather avoid altogether.

Understanding the warning signs
The average age of onset is 13 years, but you can see social phobia as early as 3 and 4 years old. In young children, it may take the form of selective mutism, meaning that the child is afraid to speak in front of other kids, their teachers, or just about anyone outside of the immediate family.

In elementary school, children with social phobia may start to refuse activities and you see kids dropping out of Scouts or baseball. By middle school, they may be avoiding all extracurricular activities and social events. And by high school, they may refuse to go to school and exhibit signs of depression. (Read about SAD in children and adolescents.)

Parents can help prevent social phobia from taking hold by being attuned to warning signs and symptoms. These questions highlight warning signs:

  • Is a child uncomfortable speaking to teachers or peers?
  • Does he or she avoid eye contact, mumble or speak quietly when addressed by other people?
  • Does a child blush or tremble around other people?
  • Does a young child cry or throw a tantrum when confronted with new people?
  • Does a child express worry excessively about doing or saying something “stupid”?
  • Does a child or teen complain of stomachaches and want to stay home from school, field trips or parties?
  • Is he or she withdrawing from activities and wanting to spend more time at home?

If a parent observes these signs, a doctor or mental health professional can help evaluate the child and determine if the disorder is present.

Understand parents’ role
For most young people, social phobia is successfully treated with therapy and sometimes medication. Additional support and accommodations at home can support recovery. For example, we know that some parents unknowingly contribute to a child’s condition by protecting them from situations that cause discomfort. If a teacher says “hello” and asks a child his or her name, the parent may answer: “His name is John. He’s a little shy.” The parent is stepping in to make the situation less stressful for their child, but a simple act like that can exacerbate the disorder because it does not help the child learn to manage the feelings and anxiety such an interaction invokes.

We need parents to take a look at themselves and how they are helping their child navigate their way into these sorts of everyday social interactions, rather than avoiding or going around them. Parents can be sensitive to the anxiety these situations cause without isolating their children from them. With the help of professionals, parents can learn to be exposure therapists, encouraging and supporting a child through the social situations that cause anxiety. (See how one teen overcame social anxiety disorder with the support of her mother and exposure therapy.)

The important thing to remember about social anxiety disorder is that there are effective ways of turning this around. Anxiety is a natural emotion and we all have the ability to harness it some kids just need extra help developing those skills. But when they do learn these skills, it is so heartwarming to see how their world opens up and their lives improve. It is what has kept me working in this field for almost 30 years.


Does smiling make you happy?

Smiling doesn't seem like a particularly complicated act: You feel a happy emotion, the corners of your mouth turn up, your cheeks lift and your eyes crinkle. The overall effect tells the outside world that you're feeling happy on the inside. It's simple and, in most cases, totally spontaneous. We typically smile without making a concerted effort to do so.

In fact, most people are turned off by the appearance of a smile that takes effort, because so often it's obvious it's fake. It's not hard to detect a fake smile -- it usually involves only the mouth, not the eyes. The appearance of a genuine smile, one involving specific changes in the eyes in addition to the mouth (notably a crinkling of "crow's feet" and a downturn of the outer points of the eyes) is called a Duchenne smile, after the neurologist Guillaume Duchenne. Back in 1862 he identified the facial muscles involved in spontaneous smiling [source: Lienhard].

Awkward appearance aside, research performed over the past few decades suggests there could actually be a benefit to producing a fake smile. According to many experts, smiling may not only be an outward manifestation of a happy feeling. It may actually be able to cause a happy feeling. It's the exact opposite of how most people see the smile-happiness connection, but with a growing body of evidence supporting the effect, it seems there may be something to it.

But does that mean you can just turn off every bad feeling by faking a smile? Could you be a truly, permanently happy person if you master the look?

In this article, we'll look at the evidence for smiles causing happiness, see how significant the effect is and find out if there are other facial expressions that can trigger the emotions they're supposed to reflect.

In the 1970s and 1980s, quite a few psychologists got in on the smile-research action, with surprisingly consistent results.


Coping

The most effective way to live a healthy life when dealing with sensory overload is to optimize your coping mechanisms. Some coping methods include:

  • Stick to a routine to create stability. If your sensory overload is caused by unavoidable triggers in your day-to-day life, sticking to a routine might help you plan how to deal with an upcoming overload. While you might not be able to prevent it, you might be able to manage its severity.
  • Identify triggers to learn how you can avoid them or prepare for them.
  • Practice meditation to help your mind relax when you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Optimize your living space to remove things (e.g., bright or harsh lights, loud speakers) that trigger sensory overload.

4- They Are Always There To Help

They take it as an honour to be of any help to you. They are happy knowing that they crossed your mind when you were in need of something. Makes them feel like they do have a role to play in your life. They will go out of their way just to make sure that they can fix something for you. Can you recall a person who you call every time you have a terrible mood swing and they show up at your doorsteps with some ice cream? Someone, you call at 3 am just to vent out? Well, you should start taking hints. Not every day do you come across a person who is willing to be there with you through thick and thin? Who rather takes pride in being able to help you?