Even a fake grin may help lower heart rate in stressful situations

CBS News:

A fake smile might be better for you than no grin at all, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Kansas discovered that if people were told to hold a facial position similar to smiling – whether they knew they were supposed to be grinning or not – they had lower heart rates after a stressful situation.

“This is not going to cure you if you have chronic stress or a major life event like a tornado,” Dr. Sarah Pressman, assistant professor of psychology and co-author of the study, told HealthPop. “But, it’s almost impossible to be really angry or really stressed with this big smile on your face…. You can’t help but reduce that negative effect.”

For the study, 169 college-aged subjects, equally split between men and women, were trained to hold chopsticks in certain ways with their mouth either to mimic a neutral facial expression, a standard smile or a Duchenne smile, a genuine smile that uses muscles both in the mouth and the eyes. Half of the smiling group were told that the facial expression was “kind of like a smile,” Pressman explained. Everyone else was just told to hold the chopsticks in that specific position.

Read the whole story: CBS News

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