University of Tennessee Knoxville: Psychologists find smiling really can make people happier

14 Apr

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD BLACK FART. A prof at Vanderbilt University conducted a study to find out if hanging around high status folk makes one happy. Both China and the U.S. were studied and here is what the prof concluded:

Song found that in urban China, knowing high-status people was detrimental to mental health. This was true whether people knew mostly high-status people, any high-status people or even just many people of comparatively higher-status than themselves. This was surprising because China, being a collectivist society, places high value on interdependence, making a strong case for social capital theory. Song says these findings indicate that comparative reference group theory predominates in urban China, because while collectivist societies are more oriented toward interdependence, they also promote negative self-comparisons to people of higher status….
In the United States, the findings were even more interesting. Here, knowing high-status people or comparatively higher-status people than themselves was also detrimental to mental health, consistent with comparative reference group theory — we tend to feel worse except when most of a person’s network was clustered at one end of the status range. When, on average, members of an individual’s network had high-status jobs, depression rates were lower, and when many members of individuals’ networks had lower-status jobs than themselves, depression was higher, consistent with social capital theory….

Journal Reference:
Lijun Song. Does who you know in the positional hierarchy protect or hurt? Social capital, comparative reference group, and depression in two societies. Social Science & Medicine, 2015; 136-137: 117 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.05.012

Preliminary research from the University of Tennessee Knoxville found that smiling is a clue to emotional state.

Science Daily reported in Psychologists find smiling really can make people happier:

Smiling really can make people feel happier, according to a new paper published in Psychological Bulletin.
Coauthored by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Texas A&M, the paper looked at nearly 50 years of data testing whether facial expressions can lead people to feel the emotions related to those expressions.
“Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or that we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl,” said Nicholas Coles, UT PhD student in social psychology and lead researcher on the paper. “But psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years.”
These disagreements became more pronounced in 2016, when 17 teams of researchers failed to replicate a well-known experiment demonstrating that the physical act of smiling can make people feel happier.
“Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings,” Coles said. “But we can’t focus on the results of any one study. Psychologists have been testing this idea since the early 1970s, so we wanted to look at all the evidence.”
Using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, Coles and his team combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants from all around the world. According to the results of the meta-analysis, facial expressions have a small impact on feelings. For example, smiling makes people feel happier, scowling makes them feel angrier, and frowning makes them feel sadder.
“We don’t think that people can smile their way to happiness,” Coles said. “But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion. We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190412094728.htm

Citation:

Psychologists find smiling really can make people happier
Date: April 12, 2019
Source: University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
Smiling really can make people feel happier, according to a new article. A team of psychologists combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants and found that facial expressions have a small impact on our feelings.
Journal Reference:
Nicholas A. Coles, Jeff T. Larsen, Heather C. Lench. A meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable.. Psychological Bulletin, 2019; DOI: 10.1037/bul0000194

Here is the press release from the University of Tennessee:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 11-APR-2019
Psychologists find smiling really can make people happier
Audio interviews available
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT KNOXVILLE
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Smiling really can make people feel happier, according to a new paper published in Psychological Bulletin.
Coauthored by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Texas A&M, the paper looked at nearly 50 years of data testing whether facial expressions can lead people to feel the emotions related to those expressions.
“Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or that we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl,” said Nicholas Coles, UT PhD student in social psychology and lead researcher on the paper. “But psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years.”
These disagreements became more pronounced in 2016, when 17 teams of researchers failed to replicate a well-known experiment demonstrating that the physical act of smiling can make people feel happier.
“Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings,” Coles said. “But we can’t focus on the results of any one study. Psychologists have been testing this idea since the early 1970s, so we wanted to look at all the evidence.”
Using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, Coles and his team combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants from all around the world. According to the results of the meta-analysis, facial expressions have a small impact on feelings. For example, smiling makes people feel happier, scowling makes them feel angrier, and frowning makes them feel sadder.
“We don’t think that people can smile their way to happiness,” Coles said. “But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion. We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work.”
###
The study, “A Meta-Analysis of the Facial Feedback Literature: Effects of Facial Feedback on Emotional Experience Are Small and Variable,” is co-authored by Jeff Larsen, professor of psychology at UT, and Heather Lench of Texas A&M University. The research is supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to Coles.
CONTACT:
Brian Canever (865-974-0937, bcanever@utk.edu)
Andrea Schneibel (865-974-3993, andrea.schneibel@utk.edu)
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

One of the best lists of what makes folk happy comes from Thomson’s 10 Characteristics of a Happy Person:

And the results are these ten characteristics that make a happy person.
1.Happy people always have happy friends. Remember the old proverb, birds of a feather flock together. Those having a positive and happy outlook to life understand and prefer the company of others with the same outlook to life.
2. Happy people usually know how to speak for themselves about what they feel and if they are not treated well. In addition to this, happy people tend to lead a life of integrity, are honest and sincere with others and themselves and always live according to their values.
3. Happy people love, and enjoy listening to music. Remember that music always makes the world go round, especially for happy people.
4. Happy people appreciate what they have and recognize the blessings that come their way. They know how to show appreciation and gratitude constantly.
5. As happy people receive and share lots of love, compassion and affection, they enjoy life better. And in the process, find that they can sleep better.
6. Happy people not only know how to eat well, they also know how to feed their body with great quality food. In addition to this, they also follow a regular exercise routine. This is because they believe in self care and work at reaching the epitome of mental and physical strength.
7. Happy people are both patient with people and things around them, and excitedly look forward to life everyday. They are always ready and welcome the adventures life offers them.
8. Happy people look for the best in themselves and in people around them as they are naturally optimistic. They know how to alter negative positions into positive ones.
9. Happy people know their purpose in life and live to their passions. It is because of this that they are always learning new things, and are open to new and fresh ideas.
10. Happy people are always ready to forgive themselves, and don’t beat themselves up for unavoidable mistakes. Being spiritual, they believe in the power of praying, and consider everything is possible and attainable through constant prayer…. http://www.growyourselves.com/10-characteristics-of-a-happy-person.html

Happy folk come in all flavors and any social status. It doesn’t matter the job title or social group.

If you want to be happy, be.
Leo Tolstoy

Where information leads to Hope. ©

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