Now there is scientific research to back up the old adage, “If you smile, the world smiles back.” According to a new study, a smile can actually change the way we process other people’s emotions by prompting an electrical “spike” in our brain activity. Participants in the study experienced this electrical spike (or a feeling of happiness) when looking at smiling faces, even if they themselves maintained neutral expressions.

For smiling participants, they also experienced the same electrical spike regardless of the other person’s expression, and in many cases, processed neutral faces as though they were actually smiling. The researches say the results show “novel evidence for a fundamental role of one’s own facial expressions in the visual processing of the observed facial expressions of other people and provides support for the colloquial phrase that ‘if you smile, the world will smile back to you.’” 

What do you think of this research? Can a simple smile change the way others impact us? Test it out by smiling when you walk into your next party, and see if you have a more positive experience.



NY Mag: Smiling Changes How You View the World