‘Fake it till you make it’ is a well-known aphorism, which reveals that by mimicking an optimistic mindset or confidence, these qualities can be realized in the real life of a person.
Researchers at the University of South Australia have just conducted a new study which revealed that just by smiling, your mind can be tricked into becoming more positive.
This study which was published in Experimental Psychology reveals how a covert smile affects body expressions and perfection of the face. In these scenarios, participants were asked to induce a smile with a pen placed in-between their teeth, forcing the muscles of the face to mimic a smile movement. The results revealed that the muscular activity of the face yields more positive emotions.
Dr. Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos of UniSA, who happened to be a human and artificial cognition expert and leader of this research, revealed that this recent discovery has a huge role to play in ensuring mental health.
When your muscles say you’re happy, you’re more likely to see the world around you in a positive way. In our research, we found that when you forcefully practice smiling, it stimulates the amygdala—the emotional center of the brain—which releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state. For mental health, this has interesting implications. If we can trick the brain into perceiving stimuli as ‘happy’, then we can potentially use this mechanism to help boost mental health.Dr. Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos.
This study borrowed ideas from an older smile experiment, where they inquired into the manner in which people interpret different facial expressions utilizing the pen-in-teeth mechanism. This was then extended making use of point-light motion images to serve as the visual stimuli.
Dr. Fernando indicated that a strong link exists between perception and action. He said:
In a nutshell, perceptual and motor systems are intertwined when we emotionally process stimuli. A ‘fake it till you make it’ approach could have more credit than we expect.Dr. Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos.
Featured image source: Cherie Joyful