Facial Feedback Hypothesis (Definition + Examples)
October 23, 2022
We show our emotions through our facial expressions. We smile when we are happy and frown when we are angry. This is one of the ways we communicate our feelings to others. But did you know it might also work the other way around? Our facial expressions can influence our emotions.
This is the main assumption of the facial feedback hypothesis.
What Is the Facial Feedback Hypothesis?
The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that contractions of the facial muscles communicate our feelings not only to others but also to ourselves. In other words, our facial movements directly influence our emotional state and our mood even if the circumstances around us don’t change!
All humans are thought to share seven basic emotions : happiness, surprise, contempt, disgust, sadness, anger, and fear. Each one of these emotions has unique facial expressions associated with it. Raised lip corners and crow’s feet wrinkles around eyes mean joy, while tightened lips and eyebrows pulled down signify contempt.
But facial expressions are more than just representations of our emotions. They contribute to and sustain what we are feeling.
Example of Facial Feedback Hypothesis at Work
The best example of this theory is easy to perform. Go to the mirror and smile. Keep smiling…keep smiling! Even if you were in a bad mood before, you are likely to lighten up and maybe even start laughing! (This is much more fun to try than scowling!)
Who First Wrote About Facial Feedback Hypothesis?
The origins of facial feedback hypothesis can be traced back to the 1870s when Charles Darwin conducted one of the first studies on how we recognize emotion in faces. Darwin suggested that facial expressions of emotions are innate and universal across cultures and societies. In his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, he argued that all humans and animals show emotion through similar behaviors.
Paul Ekman’s Contributions to Facial Feedback Hypothesis
Numerous studies have since confirmed Darwin’s idea that facial expressions are not socially learned. Instead, they appear to be biological in nature. In the 1950s, American psychologist Paul Ekman did extensive research on facial expressions in different cultures. His findings were in line with Darwin’s idea of universality. Even the members of most remote and isolated tribes portrayed basic emotions using the same facial movements as we do.
What’s more, expressing emotions through facial movements is not any different in people who were born blind. Although they can neither see nor imitate others, they still use the same facial expressions to project their emotions as sighted people do.
There are, however, a few exceptions.
People with schizophrenia and individuals on the autism spectrum have not only difficulty recognizing nonverbal expressions of emotions, but also producing these spontaneous expressions themselves. They typically either remain expressionless or have looks that are hard to interpret.
The James-Lange theory of emotion
A decade after Darwin’s study, the father of American psychology William James and Danish physiologist Carl Lange proposed a new theory of emotion that has served as a basis for the facial feedback hypothesis. The James-Lange Theory of Emotion implies that our facial expressions and other physiological changes create our emotions.
James famously illustrated this assertion with a story of a man being chased by a bear. A man is unfortunate enough to encounter a bear in a forest. He is afraid and, naturally, his heart races and he is sweating as he starts running away. According to the psychologist, it is precisely these physiological changes that provoke the man’s feeling of fear. In other words, he doesn’t run from the bear because he is afraid. He is afraid because of his physiological response to running away.
Fritz Strack’s cartoon experiment
In 1988, German psychologist Fritz Strack and his colleagues conducted a well-known experiment to demonstrate the facial feedback hypothesis. The participants in Strack’s experiment were instructed to look at cartoons and say how funny they thought these cartoons were. They were asked to do this while holding a pen in their mouths. Some participants held the pen with their lips, which pushed the face into a frown-like expression. Others held it with their teeth, forcing a smile.
Strack’s results were in line with the facial feedback hypothesis and were since confirmed by several other studies. The participants who used a pen to mimic a smile thought that the cartoons were funnier than those who were frowning. The participants’ emotions were clearly influenced by their facial expressions.
Characteristics of Facial Feedback
The brain is hardwired to use the facial muscles in specific ways in order to reflect emotions. When contracted, facial muscles pull on the skin allowing us to produce countless expressions ranging from frowning to smiling, raising an eyebrow, and winking. In fact, we are capable of making thousands of different facial expressions, each one lasting anywhere between 0.5 seconds (microexpressions) to 4 seconds.
But facial expressions can indicate various degrees of emotions as well. When we are slightly angry, we display only a light frown and somewhat furrowed eyebrows. If we are furious, our expression becomes more distinctive. In addition, we can show combinations of different emotions through subtle variations of our facial movements.
The facial feedback hypothesis has the strongest effect when it comes to modulation, that is, intensifying our existing feelings rather than initiating a completely new emotion.
Modulating also means that if we avoid showing our emotions using our facial muscles we will, as a consequence, experience a weaker emotional response. We won’t feel the emotions as strongly as we otherwise would. The lack of facial expressions or inhibition of these expressions lead to the suppression of our emotional states.
Applications of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis
The facial feedback phenomenon has several possible applications. It can help us be more positive, have better control of our emotions, and strengthen our feelings of empathy. We can simply use the facial feedback hypothesis to make us feel better in situations that we would rather avoid. If we force a smile instead of frowning at a boring event, for example, we may actually start to enjoy ourselves a bit more. We can use the same exercise whenever we are feeling overwhelmed, powerless, or stressed.
Research shows that regulating emotions through facial feedback can have positive outcomes in areas ranging from psychotherapy to child education and endurance performances.
- Paul Ekman Biography
- Body Language Basics – How to Read Someone
- Facial Expressions of Emotions (Microexpressions)
- James-Lange Theory of Emotion (Definition + Examples)
- Two Factor Theory of Emotion
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The science of smiles, real and fake.
The notion that you can smile your way to happiness is an enduring one.
Back in the 1800s, Charles Darwin was among the first to come up with what modern scientists further developed into the "facial feedback hypothesis." That's the idea that smiling can make you happier and frowning can make you sadder or angrier — that changing your facial expression can intensify or even transform your mood.
Dick Van Dyke sang about the phenomenon — and so did Nat King Cole. And it is still taught in psychology classes today.
But researchers are now finding that this phenomenon may be more complicated than they once thought. A recent study that reviewed around 50 years of data, including the results of nearly 300 experiments testing the facial feedback theory, has found that if smiling boosts happiness, it's only by a tiny bit.
After crunching all the numbers, the researchers say their results suggest that if 100 people smiled — all else equal among them — only about seven might expect to feel happier than if they hadn't smiled.
The study also looked at the effects of a number of other facial expressions, including scowling and frowning, and tried to more generally understand the extent to which positive facial expressions create positive emotions and negative facial expressions create negative emotions.
In each case, "the effects were extremely tiny," says Nick Coles, a social psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who led the study. The results, published in the June issue of Psychological Bulletin, add to a debate that has been ongoing "for at least 100 years — since the dawn of psychology," Coles says.
That debate over whether the simple act of moving one's facial muscles into the shape of a smile can make one feel happier has grown especially heated in the past few years. In another study, published in 2016, 17 labs around the globe failed to replicate a seminal piece of research that had originally demonstrated a link between smiling and emotion.
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That original study , published in 1988, found that people who were told to hold a pen between their teeth — forcing their faces into the shape of a smile — rated cartoons as funnier than did those who held a pen between their lips to make a pouty face. The participants didn't realize they were smiling or pouting — they believed they were testing out methods that disabled people could use to write.
"It was the first study that demonstrated that smiling could influence emotions even if the participants were not aware that they were actually smiling," Coles explains.
So it was a big blow when so many labs failed to reproduce the results. Still, in 2018, when researchers in Israel reran the experiment once more, they were able to replicate the results — as long as the participants weren't being observed or filmed.
"It gets complicated," says Paula Niedenthal , a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who was not involved in the recent research.
Invisibilia: A Man Finds An Explosive Emotion Locked In A Word
Part of the reason for the disparate findings may be that there are lots of different kinds of smiles, Niedenthal says. "Not all smiles are genuine smiles of joy."
Some smiles are sarcastic — more like smirks. Some smiles beam. Others simper. There are subtle differences in the dynamics of each expression, and they're hard to re-create in a lab — with or without the aid of a pen.
Moreover, though most lab studies have found that there's no harm in smiling, recent research has found that, over time, habitually forcing your expression into the shape of a smile can have a negative effect.
For example, still another study published this year found that service workers who felt compelled to slap on a smile for customers all day had a higher risk of heavy drinking after work. That may be because disgruntled employees forced to provide service with a smile are unlikely to be wearing genuine, joyful grins, the researchers say.
"We should continue to look into this area, at the very least," Niedenthal says. All told, the cumulative research does seem to show that facial expressions have some effect on emotions. What's left to do now, she says, is to tease out the mechanisms and subtleties.
In the meantime, maybe hold back on telling people to turn their frowns upside down, Coles advises.
"Because, I know when I'm sad and people tell me to smile, it just makes me more angry," he says. And as far as the research indicates, "smiling is not going to make any important difference in your life."
Goats and Soda
Goats might prefer a smile to a frown, study says.
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The facial-feedback hypothesis states that the contractions of the facial muscles may not only communicate what a person feels to others but also to the person him- or herself. In other words, facial expressions are believed to have a direct influence on the experience of affect. This hypothesis goes back to Charles Darwin, who wrote that the expression of an emotion intensifies it, whereas its repression softens it. A second origin of the facial-feedback hypothesis is William James’s theory of emotion, which states that the bodily changes follow the perception of an exciting fact and that the feeling of these bodily changes is the emotion.
To test the causal influence of facial expressions on the experience of affect, three different procedures have been employed. In some experiments, participants were explicitly instructed to adopt an emotionally relevant facial expression. In another set of studies, the emotional meaning of the expression was not mentioned. Instead, the experimenter would point at the muscles that were supposed to be contracted. In yet a third method, facial expressions were induced by a procedure that required the contraction of specific muscles for a purpose that was void of any emotional meaning. For example, participants were told to hold a pen with either their teeth or their protruded lips to either induce or inhibit a smiling expression by extracting the zygomaticus muscle (one of the main muscles involved in making the mouth into a smile) or its antagonist. In a related study, golf tees were fixed on people’s foreheads, which they had to move together by contracting the corrugator (frowning) muscle.
All procedures were successful in causing affective consequences either in people’s self-reported mood, in specific emotions, or in the evaluation of emotional stimuli, like cartoons. However, the three facial-induction methods afford different theoretical interpretations. Specifically, the more likely it is that the induction of the facial expression is linked to the recognition of its emotional meaning, the more likely it is that people may infer their affective state on the basis of their expression. For example, they may draw the inference that if they smile, they must be amused. This mechanism is an extension of Bem’s self-perception theory, which assumes that if internal cues are weak or ambiguous, people infer their attitudes from their behavior. Similarly, they may infer their emotional states from what they do. However, the fact that affective consequences can be obtained from facial expressions even if their emotional meaning is disguised suggests that more direct mechanisms may be operating as well.
While self-perception theory may account for the cases in which the meaning of the expressions is apparent, other models are necessary to explain the direct impact of the facial action. On a physiological level, it has been argued that facial expressions may regulate the volume and particularly the temperature of the blood that flows to the brain and therefore influence cerebral processes. It was suggested that an emotional event may cause peripheral muscular, glandular, or vascular action that changes the emotional experience. Another explanation that is based on evidence from the neurosciences comes from a study that identifies specific cortical activities that are connected to different facial expressions. Specifically, it was found that the facial expression of emotions that are linked to approach (e.g., joy) were associated with greater left frontal brain activity while avoidance emotions (e.g., fear and anger) were linked with greater right frontal activation.
From a more psychological perspective, the effects of facial feedback can be understood as the result of a motivational orientation. As an example, one theory assumes that behaviors that are involved in approach facilitate the processing of positive information, whereas behaviors that are involved in avoidance facilitate the processing of negative information. Applied to facial expressions, this implies that a smiling expression will facilitate the processing of a cartoon and therefore intensify its affective impact. This also explains why, in many studies, the mere adoption of an expression has by itself had no emotional effect.
The importance of facial feedback has been recognized in domains that go beyond the emotional experiences. For example, it has been found that positive or negative sentences are understood more easily if, outside of their awareness, people were led to adopt a facial expression that corresponded to the valence of the sentence. In one study, research participants had to hold a pen in the smiling pose while watching photos of either White or Black people. As a consequence, implicit racial bias was reduced. Also, the importance of facial feedback has been recognized as a mediator of empathy and prosocial behavior.
Finally, it should be noted that certain facial expressions require effort to be maintained, which may influence the experienced fluency in information processing. The experience of fluency was found to serve as a basis for other feelings and judgments, like those of familiarity and fame. For example, it has been found that judgments of fame are often based on the feeling of familiarity that is elicited by a name. More recently, it was demonstrated that having participants furrow the brow while reading the names reduced the fame that was associated with the names. This was presumably the case because the experienced effort undermined the feelings of familiarity and, as a consequence, the judged fame.
- Laird, J. D. (1974). Self-attribution of emotion: The effects of expressive behavior on the quality of emotional experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 29, 475-486.
- Strack, F., Martin, L. L., & Stepper, S. (1988). Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: A nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 786-777.
- Zajonc, R. (1989). Feeling and facial efference: Implications of the vascular theory of emotion. Psychological Review, 39, 117-124.
Your Facial Expressions Can Impact Your Mood
Facial expressions can impact your mood and your mental health
Frowning can make you grumpier and smiling can make you happier
Studies show disabling frown-related muscles reduces depression..
The Facial Feedback Hypothesis states that facial expressions intensify emotions . Charles Darwin and William James (the father of psychology) were the originators of this concept. It has proven correct in multiple research studies beginning in the 1970s. More recent discussion regarding the facial feedback hypothesis has centered around a plausible explanation for the reduced depression found in patients who received cosmetic botulinum toxin injections (BTX) to reduce frown lines. BTX treatment for frown lines immobilizes the corrugator muscle—the frowning muscles between the eyebrows (Sommer et al., 2003; Lewis, 2018; Coles et al., 2019). While there could be several explanations for the reduced depression, most researchers assume it is due to the reduced facial feedback from frowning because, after BTX treatment, the patient is unable to frown (Lewis, 2018).
Little research has directly examined the influence of facial feedback on mental health. However, the discovery of depression reduction from BTX suggests that intensified emotions from facial feedback during distress might contribute to mental health disorders. More research is needed to clarify the facial feedback role in mental health disorders and possible mental health treatments relating to facial expressions.
This website will highlight information from a recent literature review summarizing 19 research studies on the Facial Feedback Hypothesis and connections between the face and regions of the brain responsible for emotions. Read our full literature review on Facial feedback and its influence on emotions and mental health.
Coles, N. A., Larsen, J. T., Kuribayashi, J., & Kuelz, A. (2019a). Does blocking facial feedback via botulinum toxin injections decrease depression? A critical review and meta-analysis. Emotion Review, 11 (4), 294–309. https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073919868762
Lewis, M.B. (2018). The interactions between botulinum-toxin-based facial treatments and embodied emotions. Scientific Reports, 8 (1), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-33119-1
Sommer, B., Zschocke, I., Bergfeld, D., Sattler, G., & Augustin, M. (2003). Satisfaction of patients after treatment with botulinum toxin for dynamic facial lines. Dermatologic Surgery , 29 (5), 456–460. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1524-4725.2003.29113.x
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Facial feedback hypothesis explained
The facial feedback hypothesis , rooted in the conjectures of Charles Darwin and William James , is that one's facial expression directly affects their emotion al experience. Specifically, physiological activation of the facial regions associated with certain emotions holds a direct effect on the elicitation of such emotional states, and the lack of or inhibition of facial activation will result in the suppression (or absence altogether) of corresponding emotional states. 
Variations of the facial feedback hypothesis differ in regards to what extent of engaging in a given facial expression plays in the modulation of affective experience . Particularly, a "strong" version (facial feedback is the decisive factor in whether emotional perception occurs or not) and a "weak" version (facial expression plays a limited role in influencing affect). While a plethora of research exists on the facial feedback hypothesis and its variations, only the weak version has received substantial support, thus it is widely suggested that facial expression likely holds a minor facilitative impact on emotional experience. However, a 2019 meta-analysis  which generally confirmed small but significant effects, interestingly found larger effect sizes in the absence of emotional stimuli, suggesting that facial feedback has a stronger initiating effect rather than a modulating one. Facial feedback is not essential to the onset of affective states.  This is reflected in studies investigating emotional experience in facial paralysis patients when compared to participants without the condition. Results of these studies commonly found that emotional experiences did not significantly differ in the unavoidable absence of facial expression within facial paralysis patients. 
Charles Darwin was among the first to suggest that physiological changes caused by an emotion had a direct impact on , rather than being just the consequence of that emotion. He wrote:
The free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it. On the other hand, the repression, as far as this is possible, of all outward signs softens our emotions... Even the simulation of an emotion tends to arouse it in our minds. 
Succeeding this postulation, William James (who was also a principal contributor to the related James-Lange theory ) proposed that instead of the common belief an emotional state results in muscular expression, proprioception activated by a stimulus " is the emotion".  and should one "refuse to express a passion...it dies".  In other words, in the absence of awareness of bodily movement, there is only intellectual thought, with consequently the mind being devoid of emotional warmth.
During this period, the posits culminating in the facial feedback hypothesis lacked evidence, apart from limited research in animal behavior and studies of people with severely impaired emotional functioning. Formalized research on Darwin's and James' proposals were not commonly conducted until the latter half of the 1970s and the 1980s; almost a century after Darwin's first proposal on the topic.   Furthermore, term "facial feedback hypothesis" was not popularized in research until around 1980, with one early definition of the hypothesis being "skeletal muscle feedback from facial expressions plays a causal role in regulating emotional experience and behaviour." 
Development of the theory
While James included the influence of all bodily changes on the creation of an emotion, "including among them visceral, muscular, and cutaneous effects",  modern research mainly focuses on the effects of facial muscular activity. One of the first to do so, Silvan Tomkins wrote in 1962 that "the face expresses affect, both to others and the self, via feedback, which is more rapid and more complex than any stimulation of which the slower moving visceral organs are capable". 
Two versions of the facial feedback hypothesis came to be commonly referenced, albeit sometimes being unclear in distinction. 
- The weak version, rooted in Darwin's writings, proposes that facial expression modulates emotional states in a minor and limited manner. Thomas McCanne and Judith Anderson (1987)  instructed participants imagine pleasant or unpleasant imagery while they increased or suppressed activity with certain facial muscle regions responsible for the actions of smiling or frowning: respectively the zygomatic and corrugator muscle regions. A subsequent change in participants' emotional response was implied to have occurred as a result of intentional manipulation of the aforementioned facial muscle regions.
- The strong variation—coinciding with James' postulations—implies that facial feedback is independently and chiefly responsible for the onset and perception of an emotional state. 
Since the writings of Darwin and James, extensive research on the facial feedback hypothesis has been conducted, with multiple studies being largely formative to how the facial feedback hypothesis is defined, tested, and accepted, with some of the most notable studies conducted in the 1970s and 1980s—a period of time that was critical to the contemporary development of the facial feedback hypothesis. For example, arguably one of the most—if not the most—influential studies on the facial feedback hypothesis was conducted by Fritz Strack, Leonard L. Martin, and Sabine Stepper in 1988. Strack, Martin, and Stepper pioneered a technique in which researchers were able to measure the effect of the actions of smiling and frowning on affect through inducing such expressions in an undetectable manner to the participant, offering a supposed level of control not yet before utilized in similar studies. This was achieved by asking each participant to hold a pen in between their teeth (inducing a smile) or between their lips (inducing a frown) while instructed to view comedic cartoons. The study concluded that participants who engaged in a smiling expression (pen between teeth) reported a higher humor response to the cartoons as opposed to when participants held a frowning expression (pen between lips).  This study proved to be highly influential in not only widespread acceptance of the facial feedback hypothesis (e.g., being commonly cited in introductory psychology classes), but also influenced numerous other ensuing studies to utilize elements from the 1988 procedure. 
In 2016, a large-scale Registered Replication Report was conducted with the purpose of meticulously replicating Strack, Martin, and Stepper's study and testing the facial feedback hypothesis across 17 different labs across varying countries and cultures. However, this study failed to reproduce the 1988 study's results, consequently failing to support the facial feedback hypothesis  and shedding doubt upon the validity of Strack, Martin, and Stepper's study.
Furthermore, Lanzetta et al. (1976) conducted an influential study  in support of the facial feedback hypothesis finding that participants who inhibited the display of pain-related expression had lower skin conductance response (a measure commonly used to measure the activation of the sympathetic nervous system , or stress response) and subjective ratings of pain, compared with participants who openly expressed intense pain.
However, in general, research of the facial feedback hypothesis is characterized by difficulty in determining how to measure the effect of facial expressions on affect without alerting the participant to the nature of the study and also ensure that the connection between facial activity and corresponding emotion is not implicit in the procedure.
Originally, the facial feedback hypothesis studied the enhancing or suppressing effect of facial efference on emotion in the context of spontaneous, "real" emotions, using stimuli . This resulted in "the inability of research using spontaneous efference to separate correlation from causality".  Laird (1974)  used a cover story (measuring muscular facial activity with electrodes) to induce particular facial muscles contraction in his participants without mentioning any emotional state. However, the higher funniness ratings of the cartoons obtained by those participants "tricked" into smiling may have been caused by their recognizing the muscular contraction and its corresponding emotion: the "self-perception mechanism", which Laird (1974) thought was at the root of the facial feedback phenomenon. Perceiving physiological changes, people "fill the blank" by feeling the corresponding emotion. In the original studies, Laird had to exclude 16% (Study 1) and 19% (Study 2) of the participants as they had become aware of the physical and emotional connection during the study.
Another difficulty is whether the process of manipulation of the facial muscles did not cause so much exertion and fatigue that those, partially or wholly, caused the physiological changes and subsequently the emotion.Finally, the presence of physiological change may have been induced or modified by cognitive process.
In an attempt to provide a clear assessment of the theory that a purely physical facial change, involving only certain facial muscles, can result in an emotion, Strack , Martin, & Stepper (1988)  devised a cover story that would ensure the participants adopt the desired facial posing without being able to perceive either the corresponding emotion or the researchers' real motive. Told they were taking part in a study to determine the difficulty for people without the use of their hands or arms to accomplish certain tasks, participants held a pen in their mouth in one of two ways. The Lip position would contract the orbicularis oris muscle , resulting in a frown. The Teeth position would cause the zygomaticus major or the risorius muscle , resulting in a smile. The control group would hold the pen in their nondominant hand. All had to fill a questionnaire in that position and rate the difficulty involved. The last task, which was the real objective of the test, was the subjective rating of the funniness of a cartoon. The test differed from previous methods in that there were no emotional states to emulate, dissimulate or exaggerate.
As predicted, participants in the Teeth condition reported significantly higher amusement ratings than those in the Lips condition. The cover story and the procedure were found to be very successful at initiating the required contraction of the muscles without arising suspicion, 'cognitive interpretation of the facial action,  and avoiding significant demand and order effects. It has been suggested that more effort may be involved in holding a pen with the lips compared with the teeth. 
To avoid the possible effort problem, Zajonc, Murphy and Inglehart (1989) had subjects repeat different vowels, provoking smiles with "ah" sounds and frowns with "ooh" sounds for example, and again found a measurable effect of facial feedback.  Ritual chanting of smile vowels has been found to be more pleasant than chanting of frown vowels, which may explain their comparative prevalence in religious mantra traditions. 
However, doubts about the robustness of these findings was voiced in 2016 when a replication series of the original 1988 experiment coordinated by Eric-Jan Wagenmakers and conducted in 17 labs did not find systematic effects of facial feedback.  A subsequent analysis by Noah et al.  identified a discrepancy in method to the original 1988 experiment as a possible reason for the lack of systematic effect in the replication series.
Together, a number of methodological issues associated with the facial feedback hypothesis seem to be resolved in favor of Darwin's hypothesis. The moderate, yet significant effect of facial feedback on emotions opens the door to new research on the "multiple and nonmutually exclusive plausible mechanisms"  of the effects of bodily activity on emotions. 2019, a meta-analysis of 138 studies  confirmed small but robust effects.
Studies using botulinum toxin (botox)
Because facial expressions involve both motor (efferent) and sensory (afferent) mechanisms, it is possible that effects attributed to facial feedback are due solely to feedback mechanisms, or feed-forward mechanisms, or some combination of both. Recently, strong experimental support for a facial feedback mechanism is provided through the use of botulinum toxin (commonly known as Botox) to temporarily paralyze facial muscles. Botox selectively blocks muscle feedback by blocking presynaptic acetylcholine receptors at the neuromuscular junction . Thus, while motor efference commands to the facial muscles remain intact, sensory afference from extrafusal muscle fibers , and possibly intrafusal muscle fibers , is diminished.
Several studies have examined the correlation of botox injections and emotion   and these suggest that the toxin could be used as a treatment for depression. Further studies have used experimental control to test the hypothesis that botox affects aspects of emotional processing. It has been suggested that the treatment of nasal muscles would reduce the ability of the person to form a disgust response which could offer a reduction of symptoms associated with obsessive compulsive disorder. 
In a functional neuroimaging study, Andreas Hennenlotter and colleagues  asked participants to perform a facial expression imitation task in an fMRI scanner before and two weeks after receiving botox injections in the corrugator supercilii muscle used in frowning. During imitation of angry facial expressions, botox decreased activation of brain regions implicated in emotional processing and emotional experience (namely, the amygdala and the brainstem ), relative to activations before botox injection. These findings show that facial feedback modulates neural processing of emotional content, and that botox changes how the human brain responds to emotional situations.
In a study of cognitive processing of emotional content, David Havas and colleagues  asked participants to read emotional (angry, sad, happy) sentences before and two weeks after botox injections in the corrugator supercilii muscle used in frowning. Reading times for angry and sad sentences were longer after botox injection than before injection, while reading times for happy sentences were unchanged. This finding shows that facial muscle paralysis has a selective effect on processing of emotional content. It also demonstrates that cosmetic use of botox affects aspects of human cognition – namely, the understanding of language.
Autism spectrum disorders
A study by Mariëlle Stel, Claudia van den Heuvel, and Raymond C. Smeets  has shown that the facial feedback hypothesis does not hold for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD); that is, "individuals with ASD do not experience feedback from activated facial expressions as controls do".
- Facial Action Coding System
- James–Lange theory
- Power posing
- Theories of emotion
- Two-factor theory of emotion
- Lanzetta . John T. . Cartwright-Smith. Jeffrey . Kleck. Robert E. . 1976. Effects of Nonverbal Dissimulation on Emotional Experience and Autonomic Arousal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 33. 3. 354–370. 10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1684. 1271216 .
Delino, Michelle (2006). "Study finds botox effective treatment for depression". Washington, DC .
- Andréasson . P. . Dimberg . U. . 2008 . Emotional empathy and facial feedback . 10.1007/s10919-008-0052-z . Journal of Nonverbal Behavior . 32 . 4. 215–224 . 145616450 .
- Based on a Psychology Wiki article licensed under Creative Commons as CC-BY-SA.
Notes and References
- Hennenlotter . Andreas . Dresel . Christian . Castrop . Florian . Ceballos-Baumann . Andres O. . Wohlschläger . Afra M. . Haslinger . Bernhard . The Link between Facial Feedback and Neural Activity within Central Circuitries of Emotion—New Insights from Botulinum Toxin–Induced Denervation of Frown Muscles . Cerebral Cortex . March 2009 . 19 . 3 . 537–542 . 10.1093/cercor/bhn104 . 18562330. free .
- Coles . N.A. . Larsen . J.T. . Lench . H.C. . 2019 . A Meta-Analysis of the Facial Feedback Literature: Effects of Facial Feedback on Emotional Experience Are Small and Variable . Psychological Bulletin . 145 . 6 . 610–651 . 10.1037/bul0000194 . 30973236 . 108294841 .
- Davis . Joshua Ian . Senghas . Ann . Brandt . Fredric . Ochsner . Kevin N. . The effects of BOTOX injections on emotional experience. . Emotion . 2010 . 10 . 3 . 433–440 . 10.1037/a0018690. 20515231 . 2880828 .
- Keillor . JM . Barrett . AM . Crucian . GP . Kortenkamp . S . Heilman . KM . Emotional experience and perception in the absence of facial feedback. . Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society . January 2002 . 8 . 1 . 130–5 . 11843071 . 10.1017/s1355617702811134.
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License . It uses material from the Wikipedia article " Facial feedback hypothesis ".
Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
Facial feedback is back.
Fritz Strack points us to this new paper, A multi-semester classroom demonstration yields evidence in support of the facial feedback effect , by Abigail Marsh, Shawn Rhoads, and Rebecca Ryan, which begins with some background:
The facial feedback effect refers to the influence of unobtrusive manipulations of facial behavior on emotional outcomes. That manipulations inducing or inhibiting smiling can shape positive affect and evaluations is a staple of undergraduate psychology curricula and supports theories of embodied emotion. Thus, the results of a Registered Replication Report indicating minimal evidence to support the facial feedback effect were widely viewed as cause for concern regarding the reliability of this effect.
However, it has been suggested that features of the design of the replication studies may have influenced the study results.
So they did their own study:
Relevant to these concerns are experimental facial feedback data collected from over 400 undergraduates over the course of 9 semesters. Circumstances of data collection met several criteria broadly recommended for testing the effect, including limited prior exposure to the facial feedback hypothesis, conditions minimally likely to induce self-focused attention, and the use of moderately funny contemporary cartoons as stimuli.
What did they find?
Results yielded robust evidence in favor of the facial feedback hypothesis. Cartoons that participants evaluated while holding a pen or pencil in their teeth (smiling induction) were rated as funnier than cartoons they evaluated while holding a pen or pencil in their lips (smiling inhibition). The magnitude of the effect overlapped with original reports.
Findings demonstrate that the facial feedback effect can be successfully replicated in a classroom setting and are in line with theories of emotional embodiment, according to which internal emotional states and relevant external emotional behaviors exert mutual influence on one another.
Here are the summaries, which, when averaged over all the studies, show a consistent effect:
I’ll leave it to others to look at this paper more carefully and fit it into the literature; I just wanted to share it with you, since we’ve discussed these replication issues of facial feedback experiments before.
32 thoughts on “ Facial feedback is back ”
Fritz is also on a new preprint that suggests the effect exists https://psyarxiv.com/cvpuw?fbclid=IwAR0KyIptn9wD2r_w8pBDxGzbRFpPfh1YUSqMsKqHA9Ma-97MqsqDUD3A5mw . It’s sort of neat since it was a (at least semi-) adversarial collaboration.
Quote from above: ” It’s sort of neat since it was a (at least semi-) adversarial collaboration.”
I never understood why this is “neat”. I think it doesn’t matter whether something is, or is not, an adversial collaboration. Next thing you know, folks will all be telling themselves (and others) that something is, or is not, “good science” because it involved, or not involved, people with “adversarial” ideas…
Regardless of this (or perhaps the following might actually be directly related to the above), i am puzzled by the following sentences of the preprint you provided the link for. On page 7 the following is written:
“We define foundational test as the identification and testing of researchers’ core beliefs regarding the conditions in which a hypothetical effect should most reliably emerge. Importantly, these beliefs are specified a priori. Therefore, whether this predicted effect emerges can provide insight into the degree that these core beliefs are correct. Failing to find the predicted effect, of course, does not necessarily mean that the hypothesis or theory is invalid. However, it can provide evidence that researchers’ core beliefs regarding this hypothesis or theory are invalid”
Uhm, i thought the goal of psychological science was to come up with theories, and test them via hypotheses, and reformulate theories based on the subsequent findings. If this makes (at least some) sense, can anybody explain to me what words like “researchers’ core beliefs” and “foundational test” are doing in a scientific paper?
When scientists have some manner of disagreement about the best way to operationally define something, or to design a study to test a hypothesis they disagree on, the disagreement needs to be worked out. My personal opinion is that doing it in advance so that both sides say “yes, this accurately tests what I think we should be testing” before there are any results to post-hoc about, is a positive. It doesn’t mean that non-adversarial studies are bad or lacking.
My opinion comes in part from my (previous) research field. My lab had a particular belief about what a certain kind of brain damage would do to performance on certain tasks, and another lab had an opposing belief. If you were deep in it and closely reading the studies you could usually see that there were (probably) theoretically important differences in the kinds of materials and study design between the two labs. Could everything have been worked out in the literature? Probably, but it really was just papers talking past each other. I think an adversarial collaboration would have been very helpful for clarifying who thought what features were important and why, and then developing a design that everyone agreed was a good one.
To the rest, if you keep up with the reproducibility stuff (either here on Gelman’s blog or in general) you know that researchers are surprisingly fluid in what they consider to be supporting or disproving evidence for their theories. It isn’t uncommon for someone to have a theory, to have someone else fail to find evidence for it, and for the first person to say “oh, well not under *those* conditions.” So yeah, I guess that would be related to what I said before: adversarial collaborations can be helpful by making people specifically state for the record, ahead of time, what’s really critical (core) to your theory. To use the Power Pose stuff as an example, is it the exact pose? Is it how long you hold the pose? Is it just how you feel? These things apparently never got spelled out until the shit hit the fan.
As a lawyer, this seems obviously right to me. “Sort of neat” seems like a fair characterization.
Quote from above: “So yeah, I guess that would be related to what I said before: adversarial collaborations can be helpful by making people specifically state for the record, ahead of time, what’s really critical (core) to your theory. To use the Power Pose stuff as an example, is it the exact pose? Is it how long you hold the pose? Is it just how you feel? These things apparently never got spelled out until the shit hit the fan.”
I think i understand the gist of what you are trying to say, and what people are trying to do. I just reason this makes little sense.
Why should i care about what a certain group of “adversarial collaborators” collectively have decided what their view of what is “crucial” to a certain theory is? It isn’t necessarily an accurate view for instance, nor does such an “adversarial collaboration” necessarily lead to a “good test”.
I fear this will only lead to certain topics and certain people keep being involved in these types of “collaborations” just because they are somehow viewed as being “important” or an “expert” member of side A or B of the “adversarial divide”.
Perhaps mr. Strack himself might be a nice example of this: he was asked as an “expert” to provide his opinion concerning the Registered Replicarion Report of his pen in mouth paper if i am not mistaken, and he is now part of this new replication project again.
Quoting from Anonymous above:
Uhm, i thought the goal of psychological science was to come up with theories, and test them via hypotheses, and reformulate theories based on the subsequent findings
I think the point is that rarely does anyone come up with anything like a specific enough theory that it can actually be tested. If you say “some stuff should happen if you put something in your mouth” how do you test that? If you say “If I randomly assign a group of undergrads to either rate the funniness of comics, or rate the funniness of comics while holding a Staedtler number 2 pencil in their teeth, then the pencil group will consistently rate the commic as funnier” then you can test it, but who really gives a hoot? I mean, stupid conditions. It had better be a more generalized situation than “undergrads” that are “randomly” assigned to hold a *particular brand and size of pencil* in their teeth while “rating comics”…. otherwise it has no relevance to anything that actually happens in the world.
So now you need a theory like “being forced into having a certain kind of facial expression consistently alters your mood on average” which again… totally un-testable as stated…. So now you need something like a *wide variety of instances in which you can manipulate the facial expression and measure the mood*….
So now we know what is really required for any of this to make any difference at all: a wide variety of manipulations, to a wide variety of target audiences, in a wide variety of circumstances, and a consistent alteration to the measurement of mood in the comparison groups, of a size that matters practically (like say, similar in magnitude to other manipulations people obviously care about like giving mood altering medication or going on vacation or something).
Much of current psych science is obviously far from this ideal of widely applicable theories about practically important common topics
Quote from above: “So now we know what is really required for any of this to make any difference at all: a wide variety of manipulations, to a wide variety of target audiences, in a wide variety of circumstances, and a consistent alteration to the measurement of mood in the comparison groups, of a size that matters practically (like say, similar in magnitude to other manipulations people obviously care about like giving mood altering medication or going on vacation or something).”
I very much agree with you! Especially the part about practically important sizes of effect, and different manipulations.
I simply note that, with this specific preprint proposal “foundational test”-study (and a lot of recent large scale “collaborative” efforts) this is not done (optimally) in my reasoning. Perhaps they even emphasize statistically significant findings over practically significant findings. And perhaps they even emphasize a single manipulation over a wide variety.
(As a result of your comment, i was reminded of an idea i posted, and linked to many times, on this blog. The idea tries to take, how i interpret the gist of your comment, into account by emphasizing (practically important) effect sizes, multiple manipulations/variances of variables and/or hypotheses, and theory testing and-reformulation. It’s the best idea i had about how to possibly optimally perform psychological research: https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2017/12/17/stranger-than-fiction/#comment-628652 )
Quote from above: “Uhm, i thought the goal of psychological science was to come up with theories, and test them via hypotheses, and reformulate theories based on the subsequent findings. If this makes (at least some) sense, can anybody explain to me what words like “researchers’ core beliefs” and “foundational test” are doing in a scientific paper?”
I have found the following 2 quotes which could shed some light of what exactly a “foundational test” could be:
1) “To provide a foundational test of the facial feedback hypothesis, a large and diverse group of researchers came together to (1) specify their beliefs regarding when facial feedback effects should most reliably emerge, (2) determine the best way(s) to test those beliefs, and (3) use this information to design and execute an international multi-lab experiment.”
2) “Notably, this specific combination of scenarios has never been tested in a single facial feedback experiment, further demonstrating the distinction between a foundational tests and direct replications”
I wonder if what they are calling “foundational test” is basically the same as what i would simply call “designing an experiment to test an hypothesis related to a certain theory”?
Quote from above: “I wonder if what they are calling “foundational test” is basically the same as what i would simply call “designing an experiment to test an hypothesis related to a certain theory”?”
I still reason a “foundational test” is basically the same as what i would simply call “designing an experiment to test an hypothesis related to a certain theory”. I just re-read the following sentences from the preprint concerning a “foundational test”:
“We define foundational test as the identification and testing of researchers’ core beliefs regarding the conditions in which a hypothetical effect should most reliably emerge. Importantly, these beliefs are specified a priori. Therefore, whether this predicted effect emerges can provide insight into the degree that these core beliefs are correct. Failing to find the predicted effect, of course, does not necessarily mean that the hypothesis or theory is invalid. However, it can provide evidence that researchers’ core beliefs regarding this hypothesis or theory are invalid”
If the “foundational test” does not provide the predicted effect, but this in turn does not “invalidate the hypothesis or theory”, does this mean you can keep doing “foundational tests” until one of them does “finds the predicted effect”?
And if so, how is this different from something like “selective reporting” of analyses, or putting away studies in the “file drawer”, where the results of tests, and studies are (also?) not consequential for the hypothesis or theory?
I wonder if a using a word like a “foundational test” is a great way to be able to not have to really do anything with results of your experiment if they are not in line with, and concerning, your current hypothesis or theory. If i understand the concept of a “foundational test” correctly, i reason theories, and hypotheses, will basically be immune to opposing evidence, because obviously only the “core beliefs” of the researchers concerning the hypothesis and theory might not be correct!
Am i understanding things correctly here that, for instance, when in this upcoming “facial feedback” experiment involving a “foundational test” the predicted effect will not be found, they can conclude something like “these unexpected findings make clear that our ‘core beliefs’ are probably wrong, but this does not subsequently influence our hypothesis (or theory) in any way whatsoever”?
Thank you for including the link of a previous discussion concerning this all https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2017/09/27/somewhat-agreement-fritz-strack-regarding-replications/
I would also like to include the more recent discussion concerning this all here https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2018/11/01/facial-feedback-findings-suggest-minute-differences-experimental-protocol-might-lead-theoretically-meaningful-changes-outcomes/
I hope it’s okay for me to point to the following comment back-and-forth between myself and mr. Strack on that blogpost:
Here is “Bad Company” again with “Crazy Circles”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0tb9Tp1nVA
Never sure what to make of this kind of thing. ‘Cuing’ is part of how you organize a performance, whether it’s your lecture or a vaudeville show. Can you imagine reaching a difficult part of a talk about separating the threads of multi-level inferences and you suddenly pull out a seltzer bottle? If you go on after an act that dies or one that tears up the stage, you have a harder job – or you’re being sacrificed for the good of the show. The job of the MC is to connect the acts, so they don’t show you a short movie of a dog being shot just before the comedian. My guess is that people have been doing this since they started entertaining each other in small bands, and people would say ‘no one wants to follow Urgg because he’s so funny’. So sure if you form the face into a smile, then people are slightly more receptive, which is something street performers do, which pretty much any performer does in their entrance. Here’s Johnny! Wow, you’re a great audience. Not like last night’s.
One of my favorites is a thing some people do at weddings or events, which is to talk to some of the people at their table and form a conspiracy to laugh all at once to give the impression this is the fun table. It works incredibly well: people relax and have a much better time. It’s basic social cuing. Why is there such interest in finding out small examples of something that can be studied on much larger, more repeating scales? I fail to see the use in the idea that holding a pencil in the mouth causes ‘funny’ ratings but I can see the use in all sorts of social symbolisms. The size of the effect shows that there’s no magic way to induce funny. One of my favorite street performers – who did a lot of corporate work – used a technique from patent medicine shows: step closer. He’d get the crowd to press in by timing his step closer repetitions so they hit right when you were listening. Beautiful pacing. His biggest bit was beating some guy at poker using giant cards that everyone could see, just by confusing the heck out of him. One of the greats of street manipulation.
Many years ago, I met a terrific pick-pocket and confidence man. Utterly remarkable skills at reading people close up, seeing their vulnerabilities. One thing he explained to me was that the choice of target mattered much more than technique, that really the most important technique was the choice of target, because people who are oblivious or who can be distracted in specific ways don’t notice anything else. This is also how ‘pick-up’ artists work. They identify a type, see the defenses, see how they can be breached. Chess masters think the same way. (Disclosure: when I was a kid, I’d take watches off people’s wrists and give them back (because I’m not a thief), and it was very easy; you just did it while their minds were elsewhere. A couple of taps on the end of the strap. You can do it while walking.) All of this is cuing and reading visible cues. There is no magic in it, just close observation. A decent performer can notice the ability to smile in an audience.
I’ll repeat my objection from the last time we discussed this. When I hold a pen in my mouth, it is almost painful not to use my teeth. Wouldn’t this affect my ratings about humor? So, I can believe the ratings differ significantly (p<.05, .01, or whatever), but I fail to see that it is measuring perception of humor rather than the degree of discomfort of the participant. In any case, and perhaps more importantly, I fail to see how these results can be interpreted as meaning anything about attitudes towards humor, perceptions of individual traits, or much else. I am concerned about extrapolating the results of such studies to mean anything of practical significance.
“Cartoons that participants evaluated while holding a pen or pencil in their teeth (smiling induction) were rated as funnier than cartoons they evaluated while holding a pen or pencil in their lips (smiling inhibition)”
The manipulation is almost an Onion parody.
It’s believable that holding a pen or pencil in your teeth could make you feel absurd, so almost anything would seem funnier under that condition than if you were behaving normally.
The problem with a lot of these studies is that even if the statistical part of the analysis is correct, you still have to eliminate a lot of other potential interpretation to come to their favorite conclusion. Maybe it’s the physical discomfort you mentioned, maybe it’s because holding something in your lips just seems more stupid than holding it with teeth and puts one in a bad mood, maybe it’s the different rates of saliva secretion, etc.
And why is ranking moderately funny cartoons funnier a good proxy for positive emotion?
Two quick thoughts: 1) It is probably not ideal to inform your participants of the anticipated effect before you physically collect the data from them (see page 7). 2) Since this was a within-subjects design I would like to see some discussion of the proportion of participants whose ratings were consistent with the facial feedback hypothesis. Was a small effect spread across many/most participants or a large effect for a small proportion and a near null effect (with some negatives) for most others? Presumably the effect, if it exists at all, is not universal.
I really like the idea of summarizing the distribution of person-level effects with like a histogram or density plot or something. Or maybe graphing individual differences (smiley teeth – sad lips) across key characteristics of the subjects and adding a smoothed mean curve of the difference. The within-person disaggregation seems like it should be an obvious thing to do, but in general people seem to choose one level of aggregation and stick with it. I’m not sure where that comes from and why people are hesitant to do analyses at alternative levels. But I learn a lot more about a dataset when I see information coming from a number different levels of aggregation.
The title of this blogpost (“Facial feedback is back”) reminded me of the opening lyrics of the LL Cool J song “Mama said knock you out”:
“Don’t call it a comeback I’ve been here for years
(I’m rocking my peers Puttin’ suckers in fear)”
I was also reminded of what i found, and wrote, in an earlier discussion about this “facial feedback” hypothesis (linked to somewhere in this comment section as well):
“In 1980 (almost 40 years ago !!!!!), based on many papers, findings, and theories, Buck wrote the following in the paper’s conclusion section: “At present there is insufficient evidence to conclude that facial feedback is either necessary or sufficient for the occurrence of emotion, and the evidence for any contribution of facial feedback to emotional experience is less convincing than the evidence for visceral feedback.”
Here is a sweet cover of “Mama said knock you out” by Eagle-Eye Cherry:
What a great birthday present: “Facial feedback is back!”
I would have never predicted that a study that was not really on my main track of research would attract that much attention. But it was (and still is) great fun to participate in so many animated discussions and to experience “epistemology applied”.
All I can surmise is that Fritz must walk around with a smile on his face while I have a frown.
Quote from above: “I would have never predicted that a study that was not really on my main track of research would attract that much attention.”
Perhaps you could thank the “replicators” and their large-scale “collaborative” efforts for that!
I reason they, and these type of projects, have and will result in giving attention (and lots of resources) to this all for a 2nd time around!
Quote from above: “Perhaps you could thank the “replicators” and their large-scale “collaborative” efforts for that! I reason they, and these type of projects, have and will result in giving attention (and lots of resources) to this all for a 2nd time around!”
Who actually decides where the many resources concerning large-scale “collaborative” efforts like “Registered Replication Reports” (and perhaps even subsequent predictable follow-up efforts) are spend on?
If that’s only a small group of people, i would totally try and get them to replicate my research of 20 years ago if i were a “famous professor”!
I would probably get into the newspapers again, would probably amass lots of new citations, and would probably be asked to “help out” with all kinds of new projects related to my findings of decades ago!
It would almost be like reliving my glory days!
Here is Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory days”:
Absolutely! I love replications….as long as we can learn something from them that goes beyond “not real”.
Quote from above: “Absolutely! I love replications…”
Enjoy them while you can! I predict replications will not even be performed anymore in the future!
Here is a new project by the “Center for Open Science” in collaboration with DARPA (“Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency”). I find it weird that these parties are working together, but perhaps that’s all perfectly normal. Anyway, here is some information about the project:
“DARPA identifies the purpose of SCORE is “to develop and deploy automated tools to assign ‘confidence scores’ to different SBS research results and claims. Confidence scores are quantitative measures that should enable a DoD consumer of SBS research to understand the degree to which a particular claim or result is likely to be reproducible or replicable.”
Interesting. Are the results going to be secret?
Quote from above: “Interesting. Are the results going to be secret?”
Of course not, it’s partly by the “Center for Open Science” which name surely implies that they are all about being “open” and “transparent”! I mean, why else would they have chosen their name!!
(Side note: the “Center for Open Science” are perhaps all about being “open” and “transparent” except when they promoted the h#ck out of “Registered Reports”. A format that, if i am not mistaken, did not in their introductory papers, and to journals, and authors, make clear that they should really provide a link to any pre-registration or else it wouldn’t really be “open” and “transparent” at all. E.g. see https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-018-0444-y
As another side note to another one of their promoted efforts, please also see the “Registered Replication Report” of your pen-in-mouth study and try and see if they “registered” the exact labs who participated. If they are all about “transparency”, i reason they should value pre-registration of analyses (because otherwise researchers could leave some out of the final report), as much as value pre-registering the labs who will participate (because otherwise researchers could leave some out of the final report).
Come to think of it, i have very recently started to ponder whether the “Center for Open Science” (COS) should actually (also?) be called “Controllers of Science” (COS) because a lot of their efforts to me seem to all involve giving power and responsibilities to an increasingle smaller group of people (all in the name of “collaboration” and “improvements” of course!). Also see the comment section here: https://blogs.plos.org/absolutely-maybe/2017/08/29/bias-in-open-science-advocacy-the-case-of-article-badges-for-data-sharing/
To me, it’s almost starting to become hilarious, because it’s like they took a critical paper about the current state of affairs in academia by Binswanger (2014), and mistook it for a playbook: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-00026-8_3 )
Quote from above: “Enjoy them while you can! I predict replications will not even be performed anymore in the future!”
I just read this https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/the-credibility-of-research-needs-you?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=story and i now also predict that next to replications, original research, will not even be performed anymore in the future!
In the future, teams of “experts” will all be “collaborating” to use “the wisdom of the crowd” to decide which research hypothesis would probably result in “significant” results if they would actually perform the research. However, and in line with a quote from the article linked to above: The problem is, we simply can’t afford to be performing every piece of research before it’s published – it will be too costly and time consuming. “Prediction markets” and algorithms are super useful to save money by not even performing any actual science anymore!
On a (slightly) more serious note, i never understood this “prediction market” stuff. I always thought it sends out a wrong message concerning science that will likely only lead to unscientific things like not actually performing replications, and not really tackling the reasons why research might be unreplicable. I additionally thought it could also lead to bigger projects, like this new massive one. My worries, and fears, have already become true in that regard…
(Some side notes: The article itself is lacking, and possibly misrepresenting things, to me as well:
1) It mentions that “The problem is, we simply can’t afford to be testing and replicating every piece of research before it’s published – it will be too costly and time consuming. For example, an effort to replicate 15 cancer biology studies took an average of seven months for each study at a cost of US$27,000 each.” but the project seems to be about social science research which i think cost way less to replicate than 27 000 dollars for the biology studies. It seems a gross misrepresentation.
2) It mentions that “People need to have confidence in published research findings if the important research work being done in the social sciences is going to be picked up and make a difference.” I don’t know what this means precicely, but i am always annoyed with researchers who are talking about policy, etc. Your first job as a scientists is to try and understand/predict/whatever behaviour or phenomena, not talk about stuff like the quoted sentence.
3) It mentions that “But peer review based on the opinions of just a couple of individuals clearly isn’t a good enough guide as to how replicable research is.” and then goes on to talk about how they are going to need thousands of experts. However a few sentences later it states that “We are going to ask groups of five or six experts each to assess together the replicability of each research claim using the benefit of each other’s expertise.” So, how is this not the same as “the opinions of just a couple of people”?
4) It mentions that “We expect our crowd will do better at identifying potential failures to replicate, compared to traditional peer review, because of the structured deliberation protocol and elicitation methods we are employing,” says Associate Professor Fidler.” How can this be examined when, as far as i understand, the goal of peer-review is not primarily about deciding whether the research is replicable or not?
5) It mentions that “Usually it is the experts who need public volunteers to participate in surveys and experiments. But this time it is the other way around. Public confidence is demanding the experts step up. Science needs you.” First of all, “i have had it with all these [email protected] #cking experts on all these [email protected] #cking panels, and papers, and boards, and committees.” (possibly spot the Samuel L. Jackson “Snakes on a plane” reference). Second of all, they talk about recruiting undergraduate students which i don’t get if they are talking about “experts”. Perhaps by “Experts” they really mean “scientists”.)
Quote from above; “i have had it with all these [email protected] #cking experts on all these [email protected] #cking panels, and papers, and boards, and committees.” (possibly spot the Samuel L. Jackson “Snakes on a plane” reference)”
I have been reading a translation, and interpretation, of the “Tao Te Ching” in the past weeks/months(?). Today i reached, what i believe to be, the final chapter: chapter 81 https://www.taoistic.com/taoteching-laotzu/taoteching-81.htm .
In the interpretation of the chapter i read the following, which i thought fitted well concerning some of the things i wrote above, and perhaps even concerning some unexpressed and/or unaware thoughts and feelings behind what i wrote. I hope it’s okay for me to quote it here:
“So, the more human knowledge is gathered, the less we know and the farther we get from understanding. There is less and less that we dare to believe we comprehend, without being experts on it.
That way, our society is quickly moving towards a world ruled by experts, as if there are always facts demanding this or that solution, and neither priorities nor ideals have anything to do with it. As if society is merely a machine and we are its fuel.
But facts are often inconclusive and experts are rarely infallible. Any social situation is so complex that several options are present. When we make our choices, we need to consider what future we want to reach.
We cannot surrender our responsibilities to facts that are yet uncertain or ambiguous. Nor can we allow those who claim to be the most learned to make all our choices for us. That ends in a world nobody wanted.
Knowledge without true understanding is blind. If we follow the blind we are sure to leave the Way.”
“I’ll leave it to others to look at this paper more carefully”
It seems strange that you have nothing to say about a study that conforms to two of your most consistent recommendations (within-subjects, hierarchical model) and provides evidence for a finding that perhaps you have determined is unlikely to exist. Why so mum?
Quote from above:”(…) and provides evidence for a finding that perhaps you have determined is unlikely to exist”
I have been thinking about this, also as a result of this discussion:
What does it mean for the validity/truth value (or whatever the appropriate term is here) of a “finding” when manipulation X (e.g. that of the original Strack et al. paper) does not seem to work (anymore), and manipulation Y (e.g. this new proposal) does?
The more i think about it, the less i think that there even such a thing as “a finding” in psychological science. There is only “a finding” that is very probabably closely related to, and dependend on, the manipulation, and measurement.
If this makes any sense, i reason discarding manipulation X while accepting manipulation Y could possibly not be scientificly sound as i reason it is (the same or) similar to selective reporting/file-drawer problem…
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A Crisp Explanation of Facial Feedback Hypothesis With Examples
It's a well-known fact that our emotional state reflects on our facial expressions. But is it possible that it works the other way round, i.e., our emotional state stems from our facial expressions? The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that this is precisely the case.
It’s a well-known fact that our emotional state reflects on our facial expressions. But is it possible that it works the other way round, i.e., our emotional state stems from our facial expressions? The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that this is precisely the case.
Even the simulation of an emotion tends to arouse it in our minds. ― Charles Darwin (The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals)
We know Charles Darwin for his theory of evolution, but that’s not the only thing for which he deserves credit. Though the facial feedback hypothesis was developed almost a century after Darwin, it’s origin can be traced to him. In his book ‘The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals’, he sheds light on how free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it, and repression softens it, and how the simulation of a particular emotion can arouse the same in the human mind.
Facial Feedback Hypothesis in Psychology
The facial feedback hypothesis states that skeletal muscle feedback from facial expressions plays a causal role in regulating emotional experience and behavior. In essence, the same point that Charles Darwin stressed on when he suggested that physiological changes were not just consequences of an emotion, but also affected that particular emotion. Our brain doesn’t just look around us for stimulus, but also looks inside us. When it senses that a muscle, which specifically comes into play when we smile, is flexing, it interprets that we are happy.
Example : So the facial feedback hypothesis implies that contracting muscles that control facial expressions associated with a certain emotion elicit that particular emotion. Let’s say you go to a party that you didn’t want to go to in the first place. Every time you come across a familiar person, you give a courtesy smile, and in doing so, you realize that the party is not as bad as you thought it to be.
Nevertheless, there are two versions of this hypothesis. While the weak version of facial feedback hypothesis suggests that physiological changes can only suppress or excite an existing emotion, the strong version suggests that such changes can create an emotion on their own.
While Darwin took into consideration the entire body, modern-day research seems to stress on the face, i.e., facial muscular activity. So, we have quite a few experiments and theories that suggest that our facial expressions contribute to how we feel.
Pen in Mouth Experiment
The most interesting of them all was the ‘pen in mouth’ experiment, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1988. As a part of this experiment, researchers told participants to either clench a pen with their teeth, which activates muscles that are used for smiling, or hold it tightly with their lips, which rendered these muscles inactive. Then they asked participants to rate funny cartoons. In the end, researchers found out that those participants who had their smiling muscles activated found the cartoons funnier than those who didn’t.
Botulinum Toxin Experiment
In yet another experiment, when researchers used botulinum toxin (Botox) to temporarily paralyze facial muscles, they noticed that it tones down positive and negative expressions, and subsequently increases the time taken to experience positive and negative emotions.
One of the most prominent theories of emotion that comes into play in this context is the James-Lange theory. Attributed to William James and Carl Lange, this theory suggests that physiological change is primary, while the emotion that is triggered when our brain reacts to it is secondary. For example, when you see a rattlesnake or a bear, your heart rate increases and you run, and that in turn triggers fear (emotion). It implies that you don’t run because you are scared, but you are scared because of the series of physiological changes that occur in your body when you see the animal and run.
It’s worth noting that there are other theories of emotion which are based on the premise that we experience emotional and physiological reactions together. The Cannon-Bard theory developed by Walter Cannon and Philip Bard is a textbook example of the same.
You must have heard that it takes a greater number of facial muscles to frown than smile, and thus, you should keep smiling. While that fact is on slippery ground, with sources unable to come to a consensus on the exact number of muscles that are activated when we smile and frown, in the facial feedback hypothesis, we definitely have reason to smile.
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Turns Out, Faking a Smile Might Not Make You Happier After All
Perhaps you've heard that you can brighten your mood just by faking a smile . But that idea, which came out of a psychological experiment from the 1980s, may not be true after all, as scientists were not able to repeat the results in a lab setting in a large, rigorous new study.
The hypothesis, called the facial-feedback hypothesis, dates back to a 1988 study in which participants rated the humor of cartoons while inadvertently mimicking either a smile or a pout. The participants were simply asked to hold a pen in their mouths, either with their lips (which pushes the face into a frown-like expression) or their teeth (which mimics a smile). The participants who used the pen to mimic a smile rated the cartoons as funnier.
Now, a 17-lab effort with 1,894 participants finds no evidence that such an effect exists. It's the latest in a string of failed replications in psychology , including the recent finding that willpower may not be a limited resource , as many psychologists had believed.
The failure of an idea to hold up in a replication study, however, rarely settles the question of whether or not a result is valid. The originator of the facial-feedback hypothesis, psychologist Fritz Strack of the University of Würzburg in Germany, argued that the replication study changed enough of his original experiment so that it no longer was a true replication. [ Smile Secrets: 5 Things Your Grin Says About You ]
"Now, I'm not sure what we've learned [from the new findings] other than the effect is not very strong," Strack told Live Science. "And that, we knew to begin with."
Body and brain
The facial-feedback hypothesis was a compelling finding, because it suggested that the tail wags the dog, so to speak: Your body's movements can affect your mood , not just the other way around. It's an idea that dates back to at least as far as Charles Darwin, who wrote in "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals" (John Murray, 1872), "He who gives way to violent gestures will increase his rage: he who does not control the signs of fear will experience fear in a greater degree."
Strack's research kicked off a line of research that expanded the findings into new areas, including a 2010 paper that found that in people who were treated with Botox , which paralyzes the facial muscles, the drug impedes the strength of people's emotions . Strack volunteered his work for a replication attempt, expecting it to be confirmed.
"In the beginning, when we first did the experiments, I was more skeptical," he told Live Science. "But after it had been replicated many times, I had expected that it would also be replicated in this kind of exercise."
These published replications, listed by Strack in an additional document , were typically not direct repeats of the 1988 experiment, however. While they generally used the pen-holding method to prompt the facial expressions, they used different outcomes such as ratings of funny movies, ratings of other people's facial expressions , or creativity.
Other psychologists applauded Strack for his willingness to put his study up for a replication experiment that matched the scale of the new study. "Fritz Strack was very brave to put forward his own experiment, because in this game, the people who have originally proposed the experiment do not have a lot to gain," said Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, the lead researcher of the replication attempt and a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Strack offered advice to the researchers who conducted the replication study on how to set up the experiment, but was not otherwise involved in the study. Wagenmakers and colleagues in 17 labs around the world recruited participants and repeated Strack's pen-in-mouth experiment. They used the same cartoon series, "The Far Side," that was used in the 1988 experiments, but they selected different cartoon panels, which they tested among outside raters to ensure that the raters reached consensus that each cartoon used in the study was "moderately funny." They created a video with instructions for the participants so that an experimenter giving directions wouldn't inadvertently influence the participants, and they recorded the experiment with cameras to ensure that only those participants who perfectly completed the pen-holding part of the experiment would be included in the data analysis.
"We wanted to maximize the opportunity of finding the effect," Wagenmakers told Live Science. [ 25 Weird Things Humans Do Every Day, and Why ]
The researchers pre-registered their replication attempt, meaning they determined exactly how they'd statistically analyze the data beforehand, to prevent any unconscious temptation they might have had to cherry-pick data among the findings. They even wrote the skeleton of the research paper beforehand, leaving blanks for the yet-uncollected data.
Wagenmakers said that he was relatively confident that the facial-feedback effect would be confirmed in the study — although "relatively confident" for a scientist focused on research methods means that he would have given it a "30 percent shot to work out," he said. [ No Duh! The 10 Most Obvious Science Findings ]
It didn't work out.
"None of the experiments yielded a statistically reliable effect individually," Wagenmakers said. "Overall, these are the kind of data you would expect to see if you tried to replicate an effect that doesn't exist or is so small you can't find it with the paradigm you were using."
The researchers published their results Oct. 26 in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Strack, writing in a separate article that accompanied the study in the journal, criticized some of the methods the researchers used. The participants were drawn from psychology classes in many cases, he said, so they might have known the goal of the research. In addition, "Far Side" cartoons may not be so funny 20 years after their peak in popularity and across different cultures. The cameras in the room might have made participants self-conscious and affected their emotional responses to the cartoons.
"This is a subtle procedure, and it's therefore very likely to be affected by changes in the context," Strack told Live Science.
Wagenmakers said that the cartoons were pre-tested for their humor value , so there's no evidence that today's participants found them any different than 1988's participants did. The cameras could theoretically alter the results, he said, but sitting across from an experimenter would likely make people feel self-conscious , too.
"I would find it remarkable if this effect would disappear completely because of the use of cameras instead of people watching you," he said.
Some participants did figure out the aim of the study, Wagenmakers said. But the researchers knew that because they asked, and then those participants were removed from the analysis. Some labs specifically did not recruit psychology students, Wagenmakers said, and those labs didn't find the effect, either.
The failed replication doesn't definitively prove that the facial feedback hypothesis doesn't exist, but the ball is in the court of the proponents of the facial-feedback hypothesis, Wagenmakers said. If he were in their shoes, he said, "I wouldn't just argue about how the experiment could have been done differently. I would take action and show [the critics] with data that they were wrong."
Strack said he hopes to do that: He's collaborating with researchers in Israel who want to test whether the cameras could explain the nonreplication. But he downplayed the importance of replication for theories like the facial-feedback hypothesis.
"If you want to find an applied intervention in education, in therapy, or whatever, then it's really important to find a strong effect," he said. "But if you're doing that with a theory, that's not that necessary. It's kind of necessary that you find it under conditions that you describe, but if it does not replicate under other conditions, that is not that important."
Strong effects, Strack said, tend not to be that compelling.
"Innovation," he said, "runs the risk of nonreplication."
Original article on Live Science .
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
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- Published: 20 October 2022
A multi-lab test of the facial feedback hypothesis by the Many Smiles Collaboration
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Nature Human Behaviour volume 6 , pages 1731–1742 ( 2022 ) Cite this article
- Human behaviour
Following theories of emotional embodiment, the facial feedback hypothesis suggests that individuals’ subjective experiences of emotion are influenced by their facial expressions. However, evidence for this hypothesis has been mixed. We thus formed a global adversarial collaboration and carried out a preregistered, multicentre study designed to specify and test the conditions that should most reliably produce facial feedback effects. Data from n = 3,878 participants spanning 19 countries indicated that a facial mimicry and voluntary facial action task could both amplify and initiate feelings of happiness. However, evidence of facial feedback effects was less conclusive when facial feedback was manipulated unobtrusively via a pen-in-mouth task.
The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that individuals’ emotional experiences are influenced by their facial expressions. For example, smiling should typically make individuals feel happier, and frowning should make them feel sadder. Researchers suggest that these effects emerge because facial expressions provide sensorimotor feedback that contributes to the sensation of an emotion 1 , 2 , serves as a cue that individuals use to make sense of ongoing emotional feelings 3 , 4 , influences other emotion-related bodily responses 5 , 6 and/or influences the processing of emotional stimuli 7 , 8 . This facial feedback hypothesis is notable because it supports broader theories that contend emotional experience is influenced by feedback from the peripheral nervous system 9 , 10 , 11 , as opposed to experience and bodily sensations being independent components of an emotion response 12 , 13 , 14 . Furthermore, this hypothesis supports claims that facial feedback interventions—for example, smiling more or frowning less—can help manage distress 15 , 16 , improve well-being 17 , 18 and reduce depression 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 .
Recently, a collaboration involving 17 independent teams consistently failed to replicate a seminal demonstration of facial feedback effects 40 . In the original study, the participants viewed humorous cartoons while holding a pen in their mouth in a manner that either elicited smiling (pen held in teeth) or prevented smiling (pen held by lips) 41 . Consistent with the facial feedback hypothesis, smiling participants reported feeling more amused by the cartoons. This finding was influential because previous studies often explicitly instructed participants to pose a facial expression, raising concerns about demand characteristics 42 , 43 , 44 . Furthermore, theorists disagreed about whether these effects could occur outside of awareness 45 , 46 , 47 . Because the participants in this pen-in-mouth study were presumably unaware that they were smiling, the authors concluded that facial feedback effects were not driven by demand characteristics and could occur outside of awareness.
What implications does the failure to replicate have for the facial feedback hypothesis? One possibility is that the facial feedback hypothesis is false. However, this conclusion is unwarranted because this direct replication was limited to a specific test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Indeed, the replicators stated that their findings “do not invalidate the more general facial feedback hypothesis” 40 . Similarly, while arguing that the pen-in-mouth effect is unreliable, some researchers conceded that “other paradigms may produce replicable results” 48 .
A second possibility is that both the facial feedback hypothesis and the original pen-in-mouth effect are true. If this is the case, researchers must determine why others were unable to replicate the pen-in-mouth effect. One suggestion is that the replicators did not perform a true direct replication because they deviated from the original study by overtly recording the participants (per the advice of an expert reviewer) 49 . According to this explanation, awareness of video recording may induce a self-focus that interferes with participants’ internal experiences and emotional behaviour 49 , 50 .
A third possibility is that the facial feedback hypothesis is true, but not in the context examined in the original pen-in-mouth study. Perhaps facial feedback effects occur only when participants are aware that they are posing a facial expression 45 , 46 , a mechanism that the pen-in-mouth task was designed to eliminate. Alternatively, perhaps the pen-in-mouth task is not a reliable manipulation of facial feedback. Some theorists predict that facial feedback effects will emerge only when facial movement patterns resemble a prototypical emotional facial expression 5 , 51 , 52 , 53 , 54 , 55 , and previous research indicates that the pen-in-mouth task does not reliably produce prototypical expressions of happiness 56 . Last, perhaps facial feedback influences only certain types of emotional experiences. Some researchers distinguish between self-focused and world-focused emotional experiences, and facial feedback theories have traditionally emphasized self-focused emotional experience 57 , 58 . However, in the original pen-in-mouth study, the participants were asked how amused a series of cartoons made them feel, which may have induced a world-focused emotional experience.
Amid the uncertainty created by the failure to replicate, a meta-analysis was performed on 286 effect sizes from 137 studies testing the effects of various facial feedback manipulations on emotional experience 59 . The results indicated that facial feedback has a small but highly varied effect on emotional experience. Notably, this effect could not be explained by publication bias. Published and unpublished studies yielded effects of similar magnitude, analyses failed to uncover significant evidence of publication bias and bias-corrected overall effect size estimates were significant. However, this meta-analysis did not explain why facial feedback effects were not observed in the pen-in-mouth replication study. Inconsistent with preliminary evidence that video-recording awareness interferes with facial feedback effects 50 , the meta-analysis revealed significant facial feedback effects regardless of whether studies used overt video recording 59 .
Although the meta-analysis suggests that the facial feedback hypothesis is valid, there are at least three limitations that could undermine this conclusion. First, since publication bias analyses often have low power 60 , 61 , 62 , it is possible that seemingly robust facial feedback effects are driven by studies with undetected questionable research practices. Second, it is possible that the overall effect size estimates in this literature are driven by low-quality studies 63 . Third, even relatively similar subsets of facial feedback studies varied beyond what would be expected from sampling error alone, meaning that moderator analyses had lower power and potentially contained unidentified confounds. Consequently, the meta-analysis could not reliably identify moderators that may help explain why some researchers fail to observe facial feedback effects.
Both the failure to replicate the pen-in-mouth study and the meta-analysis have a unique set of limitations that make it difficult to resolve the debate regarding whether the facial feedback hypothesis is valid. We therefore came together to form the Many Smiles Collaboration. We are an international group of researchers—some advocates of the facial feedback hypothesis, some critics and some without strong beliefs—who collaborated to (1) specify our beliefs regarding when facial feedback effects, if real, should most reliably emerge; (2) determine the best way(s) to test those beliefs; and (3) use this information to design and execute an international multi-lab experiment.
We agreed that one of the simplest necessary conditions for facial feedback effects to emerge is that participants pose an emotional facial expression and subsequently self-report the degree to which they are experiencing the associated emotional state. Therefore, our main research question was whether participants would report feeling happier when posing happy versus neutral expressions. On the basis of outstanding theoretical disagreements in the facial feedback literature, we also questioned (1) whether happy facial poses only influence feelings of happiness if they resemble a natural expression of happiness, (2) whether facial poses can initiate emotional experience in otherwise neutral scenarios or only amplify ongoing emotional experiences, and (3) whether facial feedback effects are eliminated when controlling for awareness of the experimental hypothesis. These disagreements ultimately informed the final experimental design: a 2 (Pose: happy or neutral) × 3 (Facial Movement Task: facial mimicry, voluntary facial action or pen-in-mouth) × 2 (Stimuli Presence: present or absent) design, with Pose manipulated within participants and Facial Movement Task and Stimuli Presence manipulated between participants (Supplementary Fig. 1 ).
To provide an easy-to-follow task that would produce more prototypical facial expressions, we used a facial mimicry paradigm, wherein the participants were asked to mimic images of actors displaying prototypical expressions of happiness 64 . To produce less prototypical facial expressions, some participants completed the voluntary facial action task 65 , wherein they were asked to move some—but not all—facial muscles associated with prototypical expressions of happiness 56 . We also added the pen-in-mouth task after Stage 1 reviewer feedback, wherein the participants held a pen in their mouth in a manner that either elicited smiling (pen held in teeth) or prevented smiling (pen held by lips) 41 . While engaging in the facial feedback tasks, half of the participants viewed a series of positive images 57 , 58 .
We hypothesized that participants would report experiencing more happiness when posing happy versus neutral facial expressions. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the magnitude of this effect would be similar across tasks that produce less (the voluntary facial action and pen-in-mouth tasks) versus more (the mimicry task) prototypical expressions of happiness. We also expected that facial feedback effects would be smaller in the absence than in the presence of positive stimuli. Last, we expected to observe facial feedback effects even when limiting our analyses to participants who were completely unaware of our hypothesis. Two pilot studies ( n = 206; Supplementary Information ) confirmed these predictions. A third pilot study conducted after initial Stage 1 acceptance ( n = 119; Supplementary Information ) provided preliminary evidence in favour of some—but not all—of our predictions. These pilot results led to minor refinements to the methodology but did not change our final set of predictions. Our research questions and hypotheses are summarized in Table 1 .
We conducted all analyses using R (v.4.1.2) 66 . For the frequentist analyses, we fit mixed-effect models using the lme4 package 67 . Some of these models contained random slopes and thus have smaller degrees of freedom. For tests of main effects, simple effects and interactions, we used the lmerTest package to derive analysis-of-variance-like F values with Satterthwaite degrees of freedom 68 . When we observed higher-order interactions, we used the emmeans package to decompose them using simple effect tests and pairwise contrasts 69 . We used model-derived mean difference estimates as our effect size of interest. However, we also report semi-standardized mean difference estimates, wherein the model-derived mean difference is divided by the total range of the measured dependent variable.
For the Bayesian re-analysis of the hypotheses in Table 1 , we used the BayesFactor package to fit models using medium Cauchy priors ( r scale, 1/2) on the alternative hypotheses and the default Markov chain Monte Carlo settings 70 . We also performed sensitivity analyses with wide ( r scale, √2/2) and ultrawide ( r scale, 1) priors, and we thus report a range of Bayes factors (BFs). For tests of main effects, interactions and simple effects, we computed BFs by comparing models containing versus excluding the terms representing the tested effect.
We made two minor deviations from the preregistered sampling plan. First, due to constraints created by COVID-19, no research group collected data in person. We were thus unable to test whether our pattern of results differed by in-person versus online data collection. Second, we had 80 fewer participants than we initially planned for our primary analyses.
Depending on the research site, the participants completed the study on a completely volunteer basis, for partial course credit, for extra credit, for entrance into a lottery (for example, for a gift box), for a prize (for example, a pen) or for money (US$0.75–US$5). We stopped data collection when at least 22 research groups had each collected at least 105 participants, totalling 3,878 participants from 26 groups (Fig. 1 ; mean age ( M age ), 26.6; s.d. age , 10.6; 71% women, 28% men, 1% other). For the primary analyses, we excluded participants if they failed an attention check (17% fail rate), completed the study on a mobile device (3%), reported deviating from the pose instructions (1%), reported that their posed expression did not match an image of an actor completing the task correctly (3%), indicated that they were very distracted (3%) or exhibited any awareness of the study hypothesis (46%). (For the country-specific exclusion criteria rates, see the Supplementary Information .) An unexpectedly large number of participants were excluded for exhibiting awareness of the study hypothesis—but this may reflect an unusually strict classification scheme (that is, that two coders must judge the participant as being completely unaware). This left 1,504 participants for the primary analyses.
Data were collected from 3,878 participants in 19 countries. Darker shades of red denote larger country-specific sample sizes.
We hypothesized that participants would report higher levels of happiness (1) in the presence versus absence of emotional stimuli and (2) after posing happy versus neutral facial expressions. We also predicted that the effect of posed expressions on happiness would be larger in the presence than in the absence of positive stimuli. Following the study design (Supplementary Fig. 1 ), we modelled happiness reports with (1) Pose (happy or neutral), Facial Movement Task (facial mimicry, voluntary facial action or pen-in-mouth) and Stimuli Presence (present or absent) entered as effect-coded factors; (2) all higher-order interactions; (3) random intercepts for participants and research groups; and (4) random slopes for research groups.
Participants reported higher levels of happiness in the presence than in the absence of positive images ( M diff = 0.30; 95% confidence interval (CI), (0.12, 0.48); 5% scale range; F (1, 22.65) = 10.67; P = 0.003). However, the Bayesian analyses were inconclusive (BF 10 = 0.71–1.25). Participants also reported more happiness after posing happy versus neutral expressions ( M diff = 0.31; 95% CI, (0.21, 0.40); 5.17% scale range; F (1, 24.34) = 39.86; P < 0.001; BF 10 = 61.06–102.63. Contrary to our hypothesis, the Pose effect was not significantly larger in the presence than in the absence of positive stimuli ( F (1, 29.50) = 1.33, P = 0.26, BF 10 = 0.06–0.13).
Unexpectedly, there was an interaction between Pose and Facial Movement Task ( F (2, 32.95) = 17.11, P < 0.001, BF 10 = 34.13–100.14, Fig. 2 ). The effect of Pose on self-reported happiness was the largest in the facial mimicry task ( M diff = 0.49; 95% CI, (0.36, 0.61); 8.17% scale range; F (1, 28.62) = 57.55; P < 0.001; BF 10 > 100) and the voluntary facial action task ( M diff = 0.40; 95% CI, (0.23, 0.56); 6.67% scale range; F (1, 25.48) = 22.93; P < 0.001; BF 10 = 25.20–39.26). There was moderate support for the null hypothesis in the pen-in-mouth condition ( M diff = 0.04; 95% CI, (−0.07, 0.15); 0.67% scale range; F (1, 24.74) = 0.57; P = 0.46; BF 10 = 0.11–0.17.
Self-reported happiness (1 = ‘not at all’ to 7 = ‘an extreme amount’) after the participants posed happy facial expressions, posed neutral facial expressions or completed filler tasks. The panel columns indicate whether the participants completed the facial mimicry, voluntary facial action or pen-in-mouth task. The panel rows indicate whether positive images were absent or present during the facial pose tasks. The grey points represent jittered participant observations. The blue error bars represent mean ± 1 standard error. Condition-specific sample sizes, means and standard deviations are reported.
Our secondary analyses were designed to further probe the nature of facial feedback effects.
Potential aversion to the neutral expression posing task
The primary analyses suggest that posing happy versus natural expressions can increase feelings of happiness. However, an alternative explanation is that these effects are driven by hypothesis-irrelevant decreases in happiness after neutral poses (for example, as a result of boredom) 71 . To test this, we refit the primary analysis model with an effect-coded Pose factor that compared happy pose with filler trials that the participants completed. We focused on participants who were not exposed to positive images because these images were shown only during the facial posing trials (thus confounding their comparison with the filler trials). Nevertheless, similar results were observed in analyses that included participants who viewed positive images (Fig. 2 ).
Like the primary analyses, there was an interaction between Pose and Facial Movement Task ( F (2, 18.02) = 20.47, P < 0.001). Participants reported higher levels of happiness after posing happy expressions versus completing filler tasks in both the facial mimicry task ( M diff = 0.48; 95% CI, (0.29, 0.67); 8% scale range; t (22.4) = 5.23; P < 0.001) and the voluntary facial action task ( M diff = 0.20; 95% CI, (0.05, 0.36); 3.33% scale range; t (19.6) = 2.69; P = 0.01. In the pen-in-mouth task, participants reported less happiness after completing the happy versus filler task ( M diff = −0.15; 95% CI, (−0.28, 0.02); 2.5% scale range; t (31.5) = 2.39; P = 0.02).
Moderating role of pose quality
We next examined the moderating role of three indicators of the quality of posed expressions: the participants’ reports of the extent to which they followed pose instructions (compliance ratings), felt that their self-monitored expression matched an image of an actor successfully completing the task (similarity ratings) and felt that their posed expression resembled a genuine expression of happiness (genuineness ratings). For each quality indicator, we refit the primary analysis model with (1) the indicator entered mean-centred and (2) a term denoting its interaction with Pose. For each quality indicator, there was an interaction with Pose (Fig. 3 ). The effect of facial poses on happiness was larger among participants with higher compliance ( β = 0.08; 95% CI, (0.05, 0.12); t (1,482.63) = 4.33; P < 0.001), similarity ( β = 0.03; 95% CI, (0.01, 0.06); t (1,358.62) = 3.37; P < 0.001) and genuineness ratings ( β = 0.08; 95% CI, (0.06, 0.09); t (1,420.95) = 10.57; P < 0.001).
The change in happiness ( y axis) when the participants posed happy versus neutral expressions was moderated by compliance, similarity, genuineness and hypothesis awareness ratings, but not body awareness ratings ( x axes). The grey points represent jittered participant observations. The blue lines represent the estimated linear relationships.
Pose quality in different facial movement tasks
To examine whether pose quality varied between facial movement tasks, we used data from all 3,878 participants and modelled each quality indicator with (1) Facial Movement Task and Stimuli Presence entered as effect-coded factors, (2) random intercepts for research groups and (3) random slopes for research groups.
Compliance ratings varied by Facial Movement Task ( F (2, 18.18) = 10.50, P < 0.001), but not Stimuli Presence ( M diff = 0.03; 95% CI, (−0.05, 0.11); 0.5% scale range; F (1, 37.63) = 0.60; P = 0.44). Compliance ratings were high across all tasks, but slightly lower in the facial mimicry task ( M = 6.45, s.d. = 1.07) than in the voluntary facial action ( M = 6.57; s.d. = 0.93; M diff = −0.15; 95% CI, (−0.28, −0.02); 2.5% scale range; t (23.5) = −2.47; P = 0.02) and pen-in-mouth tasks ( M = 6.68; s.d. = 1.01; M diff = −0.25; 95% CI, (−0.37, −0.14); 4.17% scale range; t (22.8) = −4.49; P < 0.001). Compliance ratings were also slightly higher in the pen-in-mouth task than in the voluntary facial action task ( M diff = 0.10; 95% CI, (−0.01, 0.21); 1.67% scale range; t (21.9) = 1.96; P = 0.06).
Likewise, similarity ratings varied by Facial Movement Task ( F (2, 40.12) = 7.35, P = 0.002), but not Stimuli Presence ( M diff = −0.12; 95% CI, (−0.25, 0.02); 2% scale range; F (1, 19.18) = 3.15; P = 0.09). Similarity ratings were high across all tasks but higher in the facial mimicry task ( M = 5.30, s.d. = 1.36) than in the voluntary facial action ( M = 5.09; s.d. = 1.73; M diff = 0.23; 95% CI, (0.03, 0.43); 3.83% scale range; t (22.7) = 2.43; P = 0.02) and pen-in-mouth tasks ( M = 5.07; s.d. = 1.61; M diff = 0.24; 95% CI, (0.11, 0.36); 4% scale range; t (194) = 3.63; P < 0.001).
Genuineness ratings strongly varied by Facial Movement Task ( F (2, 13.69) = 82.56, P < 0.001). Genuineness ratings were substantially lower in the pen-in-mouth task ( M = 2.98, s.d. = 1.89) than in the facial mimicry ( M = 4.15; s.d. = 1.92; M diff = −1.15; 95% CI, (−1.34, −0.97); 19.17% scale range; t (23.85) = 12.85; P < 0.001) and voluntary facial action tasks ( M = 3.91; s.d. = 2.00; M diff = −0.89; 95% CI, (−1.12, −0.66); 14.83% scale range; t (24.92) = 8.00; P < 0.001). Genuineness ratings were also lower in the voluntary facial action task than in the facial mimicry task ( M diff = −0.26; 95% CI, (−0.48, −0.05); 4.33% scale range; t (6.67) = −2.90; P = 0.02). Participants also reported higher genuineness ratings in the presence ( M = 3.78, s.d. = 2.00) than in the absence ( M = 3.57, s.d. = 2.00) of positive images ( M diff = 0.23; 95% CI, (0.11, 0.34); 3.83% scale range; F (1, 1,538.52) = 13.66; P < 0.001).
Awareness of the study purpose
To examine whether some facial feedback tasks lead participants to be more aware of the study purpose, we used data from all 3,878 participants and modelled coder ratings of the extent to which they were aware with (1) Facial Movement Task and Stimuli Presence entered as effect-coded factors, (2) random intercepts for research groups and (3) random slopes for research groups. Awareness scores varied by Facial Movement Task ( F (2, 19.70) = 13.54, P < 0.001), with participants being less aware in the pen-in-mouth task ( M = 1.75, s.d. = 1.41) than in the voluntary facial action task ( M = 2.28; s.d. = 1.78; M diff = −0.48; 95% CI, (−0.67, −0.29); 8.02% scale range; t (24) = −5.19; P < 0.001) and the facial mimicry task ( M = 2.05; s.d. = 1.52; M diff = −0.27; 95% CI, (−0.43, −0.11); 4.48% scale range; t (15.4) = −3.66; P < 0.05). Participants were also less aware in the facial mimicry task than in the voluntary facial action task ( M diff = −0.21; 95% CI, (−0.36, −0.07); 3.53% scale range; t (39.4) = −2.97; P = 0.005).
To test whether facial feedback effects are amplified by awareness of the study purpose, we modelled happiness reports with (1) Pose, Facial Movement Task and Stimuli Presence entered as effect-coded factors; (2) awareness scores entered mean-centred; (3) a higher-order interaction term for Pose and awareness scores; (4) random intercepts for participants and research groups; and (5) research group random slopes for all terms other than awareness scores. The results indicated that the Pose effect was larger among participants who were more aware of the study hypothesis ( β = 0.08; 95% CI, (0.06, 0.10); t (22.74) = 7.55; P < 0.001) (Fig. 3 ).
To examine the moderating role of body awareness, we re-ran our primary analysis model with (1) participants’ responses on a body awareness measure entered mean-centred and (2) a higher-order interaction term for Pose and awareness. No moderating role of body awareness was detected ( β = 0.00; 95% CI, (−0.03, 0.03); t (9.87) = 0.02; P = 0.99) (Fig. 3 ).
Between-condition differences in other inclusion criteria
Next, we examined whether there were between-condition differences in the extent to which participants used an incorrect device to complete the study (for example, a phone) or failed attention checks. We separately modelled the probability that participants failed to meet each inclusion criterion using logistic mixed-effect regression with (1) Facial Movement Task and Stimuli Presence entered as effect-coded factors, (2) random intercepts for research groups and (3) random slopes for research groups.
The probability that participants used the incorrect device did not vary by Facial Movement Task (96%, 97% and 97% pass rates in the facial mimicry, voluntary facial action and pen-in-mouth tasks; χ 2 (2) = 3.06; P = 0.22) or Stimuli Presence (97% pass rate in the absence and presence of positive stimuli; χ 2 (1) = 0.11; P = 0.74). Likewise, the probability that participants failed attention checks did not vary by Facial Movement Task (84%, 82% and 83% pass rates in the facial mimicry, voluntary facial action and pen-in-mouth tasks; χ 2 (2) = 1.28; P = 0.53) or Stimuli Presence (84% and 82% pass rates in the absence and presence of positive stimuli; χ 2 (1) = 2.54; P = 0.11).
We also tested for between-condition differences in coder ratings of the extent to which participants were distracted using linear mixed-effect regression with (1) Facial Movement Task and Stimuli Presence entered as effect-coded factors, (2) random intercepts for research groups and (3) random slopes for research groups. Distraction scores did not significantly vary between the facial mimicry ( M = 2.01, s.d. = 1.17), voluntary facial action ( M = 1.92, s.d. = 1.14) and pen-in-mouth ( M = 1.92, s.d. = 1.14) tasks ( F (2, 18.57) = 2.45, P = 0.11). Distraction scores also did not vary in the absence ( M = 1.94, s.d. = 1.15) versus presence ( M = 1.96, s.d. = 1.16) of positive stimuli ( F (1, 900.52) = 0.02, P = 0.90).
Anger and anxiety
We next examined whether posed happy expressions decreased self-reported negative emotions and whether some facial movement tasks were more frustrating and anxiety-provoking than others. To do so, we separately re-ran our primary analyses with anxiety and anger reports as the dependent variables.
Happy versus neutral facial expression poses did not significantly decrease feelings of anger ( M diff = −0.02; 95% CI, (−0.07, 0.03); 0.33% scale range; F (1, 20.71) = 0.85; P = 0.37) or anxiety ( M diff = −0.01; 95% CI, (−0.06, 0.04); 0.17% scale range; F (1, 25.36) = 0.32; P = 0.57). However, feelings of anger ( F (2, 27.46) = 4.30, P = 0.02) and anxiety ( F (2, 58.20) = 5.18, P = 0.008) did differ by Facial Movement Task. Participants reported higher levels of anger in the pen-in-mouth task than in the facial mimicry task ( M diff = 0.14; 95% CI, (0.03, 0.24); 2.33% scale range; t (24.2) = 2.64; P = 0.01) and the voluntary facial action task ( M diff = 0.12; 95% CI, (0.02, 0.21); 2% scale range; t (31.6) = 2.40; P = 0.02). Similarly, participants reported more anxiety in the pen-in-mouth task than in the facial mimicry task ( M diff = 0.13; 95% CI, (0.02, 0.24); 2.17% scale range; t (51.6) = 2.35; P = 0.02) and the voluntary facial action task ( M diff = 0.17; 95% CI, (0.06, 0.28); 2.83% scale range; t (79) = 3.00; P = 0.004). Nonetheless, follow-up exploratory analyses did not indicate that these increases in anxiety obfuscated facial feedback effects ( Supplementary Information ).
For all analyses, we preregistered plans to model random slopes for research groups. However, random slopes often led to singular fit and convergence warnings, which is indicative of overfit models with potentially unreliable estimates 72 . Sensitivity analyses without (versus with) random slopes generally yielded identical inferences, except for the simple effect of Pose in the pen-in-mouth task. After we removed random slopes, the two-sided test of the effect of Pose was not significant ( M diff = 0.08; 95% CI, (−0.01, 0.16); 1.33% scale range; F (1, 1,498) = 2.78; P = 0.095), but an exploratory one-sided test was (one-sided P < 0.05). However, the Bayesian analyses were inconclusive (BF 10 = 0.46–0.96). Nonetheless, when we relaxed our inclusion criteria in a subsequent sensitivity analysis, we found extremely strong evidence of a Pose effect in the pen-in-mouth task ( M diff = 0.14; 95% CI, (0.07, 0.21); 2.33% scale range; F (1, 3,872) = 16.37; P < 0.001; BF 10 > 100).
Our project brought together a large adversarial team to design and conduct an experiment that best tested and clarified our disagreements about the facial feedback hypothesis. We designed our experiment not to provide close replications of any existing study but rather to provide informative tests of the facial feedback hypothesis. For example, our pen-in-mouth task was inspired by the original pen-in-mouth study that some, but not all 49 , researchers have had difficulty replicating 40 . Nevertheless, our methodology differed in many ways from the original pen-in-mouth study. For example, we ran our study online (versus in person), focused on feelings of happiness (versus amusement), used a different cover story, had the participants pose expressions for a relatively short duration (five seconds) and did not instruct the participants to maintain the poses while they completed emotion ratings.
Our primary analyses replicated the pilot studies that informed the design of this study, albeit with more stringent inclusion criteria and a much larger and more culturally diverse sample (see Supplementary Fig. 2 for the country-specific effect size estimates). Contrary to theories that characterize peripheral nervous system activity and emotional experience as independent components of an emotion response 12 , 13 , 14 , our results suggest that facial feedback can impact feelings of happiness when using the facial mimicry and voluntary facial action tasks. Furthermore, these effects emerge in both the presence and absence of emotional stimuli—although, contrary to our prediction, the effect was not larger in the presence of emotional stimuli. Consistent with a previous meta-analysis, these results suggest that facial feedback can not only amplify ongoing feelings of happiness but also initiate feelings of happiness in otherwise neutral contexts 59 .
Secondary analyses revealed that the observed facial feedback effects could not be explained by participants’ aversion to the relatively inactive neutral pose task or demand characteristics. Even compared with relatively active filler trials, participants reported the most happiness after posing happy expressions. Furthermore, although facial feedback effects were larger among participants who were rated as more aware of the purpose of the study, we observed facial feedback effects among participants who did not exhibit such awareness. These results are consistent with recent experimental work demonstrating that demand characteristics can moderate, but do not fully account for, facial feedback effects 73 .
Consistent with our predictions and a previous meta-analysis 59 , facial feedback effects, when present, were small (see Supplementary Fig. 3 for the distribution of mean difference scores). Nonetheless, these effects were similar in size to the effect of mildly positive photos on happiness—that is, facial feedback was just as impactful as the external emotional context. Observing small effects is inconsistent with extreme claims that facial feedback is the primary determinant of emotional experience 2 , 74 . However, they support less extreme theories that characterize facial feedback as one of many components of the peripheral nervous system that contribute to emotional experience 47 , 75 , 76 .
These results have implications for discussions about whether facial feedback interventions—such as those that might ask people to simply smile in the mirror for five seconds every morning—can be leveraged to manage distress 15 , 16 , improve well-being 17 , 18 and reduce depression 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 . It is possible that relatively small facial feedback effects could accumulate into meaningful changes in well-being over time 77 . However, given that the similar-sized effect of positive images on happiness has not emerged as a serious well-being intervention, many (but not all) authors of this paper find it unlikely that facial feedback interventions will either.
Contrary to our predictions, the effect of posed facial expressions on happiness varied depending on the facial movement task. There was strong evidence of facial feedback effects in the facial mimicry and voluntary facial action tasks, but the evidence was less clear in the pen-in-mouth task. (This was despite avoiding video recording participants, which some 50 —but not all 59 —researchers argue interferes with facial feedback effects.) Our preregistered model with random slopes did not provide significant evidence of a simple effect of Pose in the pen-in-mouth condition, and Bayesian analyses provided moderate support for the null hypothesis. An exploratory one-sided test of this effect was significant when we removed random slopes from the model, but Bayesian analyses characterized the evidence as inconclusive. However, when we relaxed our inclusion criteria, both frequentist and Bayesian analyses provided strong evidence of a facial feedback effect in the pen-in-mouth task. Nonetheless, we preregistered that this would be considered a less stringent test of the facial feedback hypothesis.
Although it is less clear whether the pen-in-mouth task had a non-zero effect on feelings of happiness, the effect is clearly smaller than that produced by the facial mimicry and voluntary facial action tasks. This may suggest that different mechanisms underlie the effects produced by each task. Researchers do not agree on which mechanisms underlie facial feedback effects 73 , but they may involve both inferential processes (for example, people inferring they are happy because they are smiling) 45 , 46 and non-inferential processes (for example, smiling automatically activating other physiological components of emotion) 5 , 54 . Unlike other facial feedback tasks, the pen-in-mouth task was designed to limit the role of inferential process by manipulating facial expressions covertly 41 . Consistent with this goal, participants in the pen-in-mouth condition were less likely to report that the posed happy expression felt genuine. This may mean that inferential processes were minimized in this task, thus reducing the size of the facial feedback effect. Contrary to this explanation, though, we did not find that facial feedback effects were moderated by self-report measures of general attentiveness to non-emotional bodily process. (See the Supplementary Information for similar results from pilot studies using a multifaceted self-report of body awareness.)
Alternatively, the pen-in-mouth task may have created a less prototypical expression of happiness—which, regardless of the role of inferential processes, may attenuate facial feedback effects 51 , 52 , 53 . Specifically, facial feedback effects may be amplified when the task activates muscles typically associated with an emotional state and attenuated when the task activates muscles not typically associated with an emotional state. In retrospect, the pen-in-mouth task we used may simultaneously activate muscles associated with biting, which may attenuate its effect on happiness reports. Furthermore, a robust pen-in-mouth effect may emerge if one uses a variant of the task that better activates the orbicularis oculi muscles, which is associated with genuine expressions of happiness 56 . However, our results provide mixed support for these predictions. On one hand, facial feedback effects did not differ between the other two tasks, which were designed to produce less prototypical (voluntary facial action task) and more prototypical (facial mimicry task) expressions of happiness. On the other hand, facial feedback effects were larger when participants reported posing higher-quality expressions. Future research can further investigate this issue by more directly measuring muscle activity using facial action coding 78 , electromyography 79 , sonography 80 or thermography 81 .
To conclude, our adversarial collaboration was partly inspired by conflicting narratives about the validity of the facial feedback hypothesis. We began the collaboration after a large team of researchers failed to replicate a seminal demonstration of facial feedback effects using a pen-in-mouth task 40 , but a meta-analysis indicated that facial feedback has a small but significant effect on emotional experience 59 . Our results do not provide unequivocal evidence of a pen-in-mouth effect. Nonetheless, they do provide strong evidence that other tasks designed to produce partial or full recreations of happy expressions can both modulate and initiate feelings of happiness. It has been nearly 100 years since researchers began famously debating whether peripheral nervous system activity is merely a by-product of emotion processes. Consistent with theories positing that peripheral nervous system activity impacts emotional experience, our results a century later provide strong evidence of facial feedback effects. With this foundation strengthened, future researchers can turn their attention to answering new questions about when and why these effects occur.
Each research group received approval from their local Ethics Committee or Institutional Review Board to conduct the study (for example, University of Tennessee IRB-19-05313-XM), indicated that their institution does not require approval for the researchers to conduct this type of research or indicated that the current study is covered by a pre-existing approval. At the time of Stage 1 submission, 22 research groups had ethics approval to collect data, but additional sites with pending ethics approval joined the project later. All participants provided informed consent.
The experiment was presented via Qualtrics. Due to constraints created by COVID-19, we planned for data collection to primarily occur online. However, research groups were allowed to collect data in the laboratory if they indicated they could do so safely. Before beginning the study, the participants were asked to confirm that they had a clean pen or pencil nearby that they were willing to place in their mouths, were completing the study on a desktop computer or laptop (details regarding the participants’ operating systems were automatically recorded to confirm) and were in a setting with minimal distractions.
The participants were told that the study was investigating how physical movements and cognitive distractors influence mathematical speed and accuracy and that they would complete four simple movement tasks and math problems. The first and last tasks were randomly presented filler trials that helped ensure the cover story was believable (“Place your left hand behind your head and blink your eyes once per second for 5 seconds” and “Tap your left leg with your right-hand index finger once per second for 5 seconds”). In the two critical tasks, the participants were asked to pose happy and neutral facial expressions in randomized order through the facial mimicry, voluntary facial action or pen-in-mouth procedure. While posing these expressions, some participants were randomly assigned to view positive images. To reinforce the cover story, the participants were provided with an on-screen timer during all tasks.
After each task (including the filler tasks), the participants completed a simple filler arithmetic problem and the Discrete Emotions Questionnaire’s four-item happiness subscale, which asked the participants to indicate the degree to which they experienced happiness, satisfaction, liking and enjoyment during the preceding task (1 = ‘not at all’ to 7 = ‘an extreme amount’) 82 . The participants also completed two items measuring anxiety (worry and nervous). To further obscure the purpose of the study, the participants also completed one anger, tiredness and confusion filler item. All emotion items were presented in random order. By not referencing the emotional stimuli, this questionnaire better captured self-focused, as opposed to world-focused, emotional experience 57 , 58 . Afterwards, the participants rated how much they liked the task and how difficult they found the task and arithmetic problem. In the non-filler tasks, an attention check item asking the participants to choose a specific response option was randomly inserted in the questions regarding the task and arithmetic problem difficulty.
In the facial mimicry condition, the participants were shown a 2 × 2 image matrix of actors posing happy expressions. The participants were then instructed to either mimic these expressions (happy condition) or maintain a blank expression (neutral condition). Importantly, having the participants view the happy expression matrix before both the happy and neutral trials ensured that any potentially confounding effects that images of smiling people have on emotional experience were constant across the mimicry trials. The expression matrix was displayed for at least five seconds, and the participants indicated when they were ready to perform the task. In the voluntary facial action condition, the participants were instructed to either move the corners of their lips up towards their ears and elevate their cheeks using only the muscles in their face (happy condition) or maintain a blank facial posture (neutral condition). In the pen-in-mouth condition, the participants received video instructions regarding the correct way to hold the pen in their teeth (happy condition) or lips (neutral condition). During all facial pose tasks, the participants were instructed to maintain the poses for five seconds, the approximate duration of spontaneous happiness expressions 83 .
After completing the five movement tasks, the participants answered a variety of open-ended questions regarding their beliefs about the purpose of the experiment via Qualtrics. Each research group recruited two independent, results-blind coders to review the open-ended responses. The coders were provided a written description of the study purpose and methods and subsequently reviewed the participants’ open-ended responses in randomized order. On the basis of the open-ended responses, the coders rated the degree to which each participant was aware of the true purpose of the experiment (1 = ‘not at all aware’ to 7 = ‘completely aware’).
After answering questions about their beliefs regarding the purpose of the experiment, the participants completed a short demographic form and the Body Awareness Questionnaire 84 . The participants then answered several questions related to the quality of their data. First, the participants were re-presented with their assigned happy pose instructions and asked to retrospectively rate how well they followed the instructions earlier in the study (1 = ‘not at all’ to 7 = ‘exactly’). Second, the participants were asked to repeat the task and rate the degree to which it felt like they were expressing happiness (1 = ‘not at all’ to 7 = ‘exactly’). Third, the participants were asked to watch themselves repeat the task (for example, via a mirror or camera phone) and indicate the degree to which their expression matched an image of an individual completing the task correctly (1 = ‘not at all’ to 7 = ‘exactly’). Fourth, the participants were asked to describe any issues that may have compromised the quality of their data (such as distractions). The two coders from each research group reviewed the responses to this last question and rated the degree to which each participant was distracted (1 = ‘not at all distracted’ to 7 = ‘completely distracted’). The participants were told that there would not be a penalty for indicating that they did not complete the task correctly or that there were issues with the quality of their data.
Ideally, the quality of the participants’ posed expressions would have been assessed via video recordings or participant-submitted photos. However, many members of our collaboration expressed doubts about receiving ethical approval to collect and share images or recordings. Participants in many of our data collection regions may also have lacked a web camera. Furthermore, researchers are still debating whether awareness of overt video recording interferes with facial feedback effects 49 , 50 , 59 , 85 . Nevertheless, pilot study recordings and self-reports confirmed that almost all participants successfully posed the target facial expressions ( Supplementary Information ).
In the facial mimicry task, the participants all viewed the same 2 × 2 image matrix of actors posing happy facial expressions from the Extended Cohn–Kanade Dataset 86 . All four actors posed prototypical facial expressions of happiness, as confirmed by coders trained in the Facial Action Coding System 78 . An image matrix of actors, as opposed to a single image, was used so that the participants had multiple examples of the movement and were provided with more options for a suitable facial model. In the pen-in-mouth task, the instructional videos were adopted from Wagenmakers and colleagues’ replication materials 40 .
During the two facial expression pose tasks, one group of participants viewed an array of four positive photos (for example, photos of dogs, flowers, kittens and rainbows). Multiple photos (as opposed to a single photo) were used to increase the probability that the participants found at least one of the photos emotionally evocative. All photos were drawn from a database comprising 100 images from the internet and the International Affective Picture System 87 that were separately rated on how good and bad they were 88 . The results from the three pilot studies confirmed that these images successfully elicited feelings of happiness ( Supplementary Information ). Due to potential cross-cultural differences in what types of photos elicit happiness (for example, dog photos can be expected to elicit happiness in many Western cultures but not in all African cultures), each lab was permitted to replace photos with more culturally appropriate positive photos. For non-English-speaking data collection sites, the experiment materials were translated into the local language.
Due to the nested nature of the data (for example, ratings nested within individuals, which were nested within research groups), we used linear multilevel modelling. More specifically, happiness reports were modelled with (1) Pose, Facial Movement Task and Stimuli Presence entered as factors; (2) random intercepts for research groups and participants; and (3) random slopes for research groups. All hypotheses in Table 1 were examined using both null hypothesis significance testing and Bayesian alternatives.
Participants were excluded from the primary analyses if they (1) exhibited any awareness of the facial feedback hypothesis (that is, received an awareness score over 1 from two independent coders), (2) disclosed that they were very distracted during the study (that is, received an average distraction score above 5 from two independent coders), (3) did not complete the study on a desktop computer or laptop, (4) indicated that they did not follow the pose instructions, (5) indicated that their expression during the happy pose task did not at all match the image of an actor completing the task correctly, or (6) failed attention checks. These stringent exclusion criteria were added after we failed to observe the pen-in-mouth effect in pilot study 3.
Although our primary analyses were run with the aforementioned exclusion criteria, we also re-ran these analyses to examine whether the exclusion criteria interact with Pose to influence happiness reports. We also examined whether these exclusion criterion variables varied as a function of Facial Movement Task and Stimuli Presence.
To examine the alternative explanation that doing something (for example, posing a happy facial expression) may simply be more enjoyable than doing nothing (for example, posing a neutral facial expression), we also re-ran our primary analyses with a factor contrasting the happy pose and filler trials.
Although previous research has indicated that many psychology studies yield similar effect sizes when completed online versus in a lab 89 , we recorded the mode of data collection and planned to re-run our primary analyses with the data collection mode included as a moderator. However, we noted that this analysis may be confounded by (1) whether the research group is a proponent or a critic of the facial feedback hypothesis (that is, proponents may be more likely to collect data in the laboratory) and (2) the region of data collection (that is, research groups in regions with fewer COVID-19 cases may be more likely to collect data in the laboratory).
Although we did not anticipate a Pose by Facial Movement Task interaction, we noted that the pen-in-mouth condition may lead to heightened levels of anxiety in the midst and/or aftermath of COVID-19. Although this is speculative, heightened levels of anxiety may interfere with facial feedback effects. Consequently, as an exploratory analysis, we examined whether anxiety ratings differ as a function of Facial Movement Task.
Power analysis was performed via a linear multilevel modelling simulation. We randomly generated normally distributed data for 96 participants from 22 research groups. Effect size estimates for the hypothesized effects of Pose ( d = 0.39), Stimuli Presence ( d = 0.68) and the Pose by Stimuli Presence interaction ( d = 0.29) were estimated from pilot studies 1 and 2 ( Supplementary Information ). All other effects were set to zero. Pilot study 3 was run after initial in-principle acceptance was granted and yielded somewhat different effect size estimates. However, this pilot study led to minor refinements in the exclusion criteria that left our original predictions unchanged.
On the basis of two pilot studies, we simulated random intercepts for participants with s.d. = 0.70. We did not simulate random slopes for participants since there are only two observations within each participant, which would probably lead to convergence issues. Random slopes for research groups were simulated on the basis of the values from the previous many-lab failure to replicate 40 . For the hypothesized effects, we specified conservative random slope estimates on the basis of the standard deviation of their meta-analytic effect size from the previous many-lab failure to replicate (s.d. = 0.28). For the effects we expected to be zero, we specified random slopes on the basis of the random slope from the previous many-lab failure to replicate ( τ 2 ≈ 0). However, due to convergence issues, the research groups random slope for the facial feedback task factor was removed. Residual variance was set to 0.60 on the basis of the estimates from pilot studies 1 and 2.
The results from this power simulation indicated that over 95% power for all our hypothesized effects could be obtained with at least 1,584 participants. However, on the basis of pilot study 3, we estimated that 44% of the participants would not meet our strict inclusion criteria, leading to a desired sample of 2,281. We therefore planned to stop collecting data once one of the following conditions was met: (1) 22 labs had collected 105 participants each or (2) at least six months had elapsed since the start of data collection and we had at least 2,281 participants. We planned for a minimum of 22 labs to collect data for this project, although additional labs with pending ethics approval were allowed to join the project later.
Further information on research design is available in the Nature Research Reporting Summary linked to this article.
The full data are publicly available at https://osf.io/ac3t2/ . Source data are provided with this paper.
The full analysis code is publicly available at https://osf.io/ac3t2/ .
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This work was financially supported by B. Stastny, who generously donated funds for this research in memory of his father, Bill Stastny (J.T.L.). The work was also supported by the National Science Centre, Poland (grant no. 2019/35/B/HS6/00528; K.B.), JSPS KAKENHI (grant nos 16H03079, 17H00875, 18K12015, 20H04581 and 21H03784; Y.Y.), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq; R.M.K.F.), the Polish National Science Center (M.P.), the DFG Beethoven grant no. 2016/23/G/HS6/01775 (M.P.), the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (grant no. R010138018; N.A.C.), the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (grant no. PGC2018-098558-B-I00; J.A.H.), the Comunidad de Madrid (grant no. H2019/HUM-5705; J.A.H.), Teesside University (N.B.) and the Occidental College Academic Student Project Award (S.L.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. We also thank C. Scavo and A. Bidani for help with translating the study materials, L. Pullano and R. Giorgini for help with coding, and E. Tolomeo and L. Pane for help with data collection.
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Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA
Nicholas A. Coles
Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA
David S. March
Center for Change and Complexity in Learning, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA
Jeff T. Larsen & Lowell Gaertner
Department of Psychology, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Abakaliki, Nigeria
Nwadiogo C. Arinze & Izuchukwu L. G. Ndukaihe
School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, New South Wales, Australia
Megan L. Willis & Francesco Foroni
Department of Psychology, Ben-Gurion University, Be’er Sheva, Israel
Niv Reggev & Aviv Mokady
Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University, Be’er Sheva, Israel
Busara Center for Behavioral Economics, Nairobi, Kenya
Patrick S. Forscher
Chapman University, Orange, CA, USA
John F. Hunter
CLLE, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France
Department of Psychology, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey
Elif Yüvrük & Aycan Kapucu
Institute of Psychology, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
Tamás Nagy, Nandor Hajdu & Balazs Aczel
Department of Psychology, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristóvão, Brazil
Vernacular Languages Department, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristóvão, Brazil
Raquel M. K. Freitag
Fundación para el Avance de la Psicología, Bogotá, Colombia
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Guwahati, India
Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland
Krystian Barzykowski, Sylwia Adamus & Katarzyna Filip
Faculty of Arts and Science, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan
Graduate School of Human-Environment Studies, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan
School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Daniel L. Eaves
School of Health and Life Sciences, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK
Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Carmel A. Levitan & Sydney Leiweke
Center of Research on Cognition and Behavior, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland
Department of Psychology, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK
Department of Psychology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Department of Psychology, United States International University—Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
Dana M. Basnight-Brown
Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
José A. Hinojosa
Universidad Nebrija, Madrid, Spain
Departamento de Psicología Básica 1, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Madrid, Spain
Pedro R. Montoro
Programa de Psicología, Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá, Colombia
Lady G. Javela D
LIP/PC2s, Université Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France
Kevin Vezirian & Hans IJzerman
Institut Universitaire de France, Paris, France
University of Antioquia-UDEA, Medellín, Colombia
Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
Sarah D. Pressman
Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
Pascal M. Gygax
Department of Psychology, Üsküdar University, İstanbul, Turkey
Asil A. Özdoğru
FOM University of Applied Sciences, Essen, Germany
Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, Tübingen, Germany
Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Phoebe C. Ellsworth
Department of Psychology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Venice, Italy
Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, ‘Magna Graecia’ University of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy
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Correspondence to Nicholas A. Coles .
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Nature Human Behaviour thanks David Mellor, Rainer Reisenzein, Jared McGinley and Quentin Gronau for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Supplementary Figs. 1–3, results from pilot studies 1–3, and results and discussion from the main study.
Source data fig. 1.
Data on country-specific sample sizes.
Source Data Fig. 2
Participant-level data for the primary analyses.
Source Data Fig. 3
Participant-level data for the secondary moderator analyses.
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Coles, N.A., March, D.S., Marmolejo-Ramos, F. et al. A multi-lab test of the facial feedback hypothesis by the Many Smiles Collaboration. Nat Hum Behav 6 , 1731–1742 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-022-01458-9
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- Published: June 1996
Facial feedback hypotheses: Evidence, implications, and directions
- Daniel N. McIntosh 1
Motivation and Emotion volume 20 , pages 121–147 ( 1996 ) Cite this article
This review evaluates four facial feedback hypotheses, each proposing a certain relation between the face and emotions. It addresses criticisms of the data, considers implications for emotional and social processes, and advises directions for future research. The current data support the following: Facial actions are sensitive to social context, yet correspond to the affective dimension of emotions; matches with specific emotions are unlikely. They modulate ongoing emotions, and initiate them. These two claims have received substantially improved support, in part due to studies controlling for effects of experimental demand and task difficulty. Facial action may influence the occurrence of specific emotions, not simply their valence and intensity. Facial action is not necessary for emotions. There are multiple and nonmutually exclusive plausible mechanisms for facial effects on emotions. Future work must focus on determining the relative contributions of these mechanisms, and the parameters of their effects on emotions.
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I appreciate the helpful comments of Harry Gollob, Greg McHugo, Catherine Reed, Craig Smith, and R. B. Zajonc on earlier drafts of this paper.
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McIntosh, D.N. Facial feedback hypotheses: Evidence, implications, and directions. Motiv Emot 20 , 121–147 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02253868
Issue Date : June 1996
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02253868
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Facial Feedback Hypothesis Quantitative Research
The aim of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that the facial expression depicted by people is related to the effective emotional response. This study involves two experiments designed as a correctional alternative to the earlier versions that were associated with ambiguities.
The first experiment focuses on the efficiency of the procedures used for this experiment. Cartoons were used and the level of amusement measured under both the facilitating conditions and inhibiting conditions.
The second experiment further validated the method used and was used to answer some of the important questions that had not been answered in the previous experiments.
The findings propose that the effective response to a stimulus intensifies with the facilitation and softening of an expression.
The influence of facial muscular activity has been the concentration of most research studies conducted regarding facial physiological responses. Most of these studies are based on the hypothetical theory forwarded by Darwin.
In this theory, it is suggested when an individual is stimulated, his or her emotional response can either be reinforced or attenuated.
However, this largely depends on whether or not it comes along with proper muscular activities. This has formed the backbone of the current facial feedback hypothesis (Clark, & Isen, 1982).
Previous experiments conducted to investigate facial feedback hypothesis were done by making the participants portray facial expressions associated to specific emotions. These emotional responses were measured by attaching electrodes between the eyebrows of the participants.
However, this method has limitations, especially the ambiguities that tend to affect the outcome of the experiment (Ekman, Levenson, & Friesen, 1983).
For instance, the procedure followed for this experiment does not prevent the participants from understanding the fundamental purpose for the manipulation of the facial activities (Colby & Lanzetta, 1976).
As such, the results obtained are rather subjective and therefore, an outcome of situational demands. In most instances, cartoons were used and the level of amusement in the participants was measured by focusing on the muscular responses that causes them to either smile or frown.
As stated above, it was easier for the participant to understand the purpose for the experiment and therefore, comply with the expected outcome (Darwin, 1872).
In another experiment, there was no manipulation of the facial expressions portrayed by the participants in the experiment.
Participants were asked to do a modification of their normal emotional response to a particular stimulus during the suppression experiment (Higgins, Rholes, & Jones, 1977).
The exaggeration experiment, on the other hand, required that the participants portray the exact facial expressional that properly represented the emotions of the stimulus they were experiencing.
However, it is still evident that the experimental conditions did not allow participants to discriminate between physiological and cognitive mechanisms (Izard, 1977). As such, it is possible that recipients may have repressed their proper emotional response to the stimulus (Izard, 1977).
Also, it is possible that participants might have intentionally over-emphasized their emotions to produce the expected emotional expression. As a correctional response to the limitation in the earlier experiments, this study uses a different procedure that is clearer and has no ambiguities.
It does not depend on the generation of facial expression but rather focuses on the activation of appropriate muscles related to the expected emotional expression (Izard, 1981).
This, therefore, lowers the chances of the participant interpreting their muscular activities to a particular emotional response. The cognitive strategy to alter their emotion is thus prevented.
The study is based on the facial feedback hypothesis, which emphasizes that facial expressions provide proprioceptive, cutaneous, or vascular feedback to the expresser, which influences emotional experience.It is thus related to psycho-motor coordination (James, 1990).
More specifically, the main area of interest is in the individual’s capability to carry out various tasks with elements of their body not routinely utilized for such chores (Gavanski, 1986).
In this study, subjects are asked specifically to contract the facial muscles used to express emotions or are asked to perform non-emotional tasks that require contraction of these muscles.
The experimental study, in this case, investigates the capability to carry out similar chores using other parts not traditionally utilized for doing such chores.
The aim of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that the facial expression depicted by individuals has a direct relationship with the effective emotional response (Hager, 1982).
This study involves two experiments designed to respond to the earlier versions still associated with inconsistencies and vagueness.
The first experiment focuses on the efficiency of the procedures used. In essence, cartoons were used and the level of amusement measured under both the facilitating conditions and inhibiting conditions.
The second experiment further validated the method adopted and was used to answer some of the important questions that had not been catered for in the earlier experimental studies.
In a nutshell, this study hypothesizes that an individual’s facial activity influences his or her response (Leventhal & Mace, 1970).
This investigation consisted of 101 people: 76 females and 25 males. Their ages ranged from 19 years to 49 years with a mean age of 21.74 years ( SD =3.825). Participants were recruited by students of the 2012 Developmental Psychology class from people known to them.
Demographic characteristics, such as ethnic background, were not collected. Family details structure such as number of siblings, age, and gender siblings were recorded (Matsumoto, 1987).
The dependent variable in this investigation was participants’ responses to the various tasks they were required to perform and their emotional responses to the cartoons shown to them (Tice, & Bratslavsky, 2000).
This study involved one within subject independent variable; the pen holding condition. The dependent variables, on the other hand, were two and included the difficulty ratings and amusement ratings (Carlsmith, Ellsworth, & Aronson, 1976).
Twelve cartoons from a magazine were used to induce stimuli in the participants.
Other materials required for the experiment included a felt tipped pen for joining the different points on the paper, an alcohol swab for disinfecting their hands and the pen, and a paper tissue for wiping their hands and pen (Buck, 1980).
Students from the 2011 Developmental Psychology class worked in pairs to conduct the interview, which consisted of the unexpected contents task. Participants were put into three groups consisting of 35, 33, and 33 members.
The experimenter explained to them the various ways one can use to hold a pen. The tasks in this experiment were in four parts, which had been printed on different sheets of paper but given to the participant as a booklet of bound pages.
Participants were asked to hold the pen using their non-preferred hand, teeth or lips (depending on which group they were in), to draw a line between the two asterisks on the page provided to them (Laird, Wagener, Halal, & Szegda, 1982).
The second task instructed them to draw a line connecting 10 ordered digits on in an ascending order starting at 1.
The third task involved underlining the vowels among the letters on the page availed to them. It was required of them to rate on the response sheet how difficult it was in performing the various tasks assigned to them as described before (Leventhal & Cupchik, 1976).
In the fourth task, they were shown different cartoons from magazines. It was required of them to rate each of these cartoons on a system of measurement, which ranged from zero ( not at all funny ) to nine ( very funny ).
They were to rate these cartoons while maintaining their initial positions with the pen in their teeth, or lips or the non-preferred hand (McCaul, Holmes, & Solomon, 1982).
Data were analysed using Chi-Square (X 2 ). The experimental study conducted among 101 participants: 76 Females (75.2%) and 25 males (24.8%).
The dependent variables given more emphasis were the funniness ratings for the various cartoons shown to the participants in different groups (Bower, 1981).
As before explained, the effect of facial feedback was anticipated to be confusing as opposed to the funniness ratings.
Participants who held pens in their teeth when cartoons were shown to them had highest (M=5.1139) amusement rating as compared to those holding the pen in their non-preferred hand (M=4.4025).
Basing on the facial feedback hypothesis, the prediction was that cartoons would have the highest funniness rating only when those muscles related to smiling constrained. As seen, those who held their pens in the lips were rated in between those in the lips and those in the teeth (M=4.6058).
In terms of difficulty ratings, it can be summarized that the harder it was for the participants in gripping the pens, the more they were inhibited from experiencing the humor within what was being shown to them, and therefore, the less amusing they appeared to the participants (Bern, 1967).
This is evident from the difficulty table above that it was less difficult for participants to perform tasks when holding their pens in non-preferred hand (M=2.68) than when the pen was held in the lips (M=7.87) or teeth (M=7.75).
All the cartoons received the highest funniness rating when pens were held in the teeth whereas the lowest funniness rating for all the cartoons was recorded when pens were held in the non-preferred hand (Gavanski, 1986).
There was no considerable relationship between the investigational environments with the cartoons originating from mixed-model analysis of variance (ANOVA ) hence regarding them as in the subject factor F<1 (refer to Table 3).
When combined, these results imply that the suppressing the activities of the muscles related to subdued participant’s feeling of humor. However, any facilitation of the activity increased the intensity of their feeling (Leventhal, & Scherer, 1987).
By analyzing the covariance, there was no considerable effect caused by difficulty when treated as a covariate F<1 (Refer to Table 4 and Fig 1 & 2).
Therefore, the disparity in funniness was not as a result of the disparities in the complexity of the three environments used in the experiment (Bern, 1967).
Figure 1: Estimated Marginal Means of MEASURE
Figure 2: Estimated Marginal Means of MEASURE
The main objective for this study was to manipulate facial expressions by using a different approach, which effectively does not involve interpreting facial expressions. For instance, the rating of the various cartoons was dependent on the stimulation of the muscle related to smiling.
As opposed to the previous studies, this study did not depend on the generation of emotions regarding a particular emotional response. The results from this paradigm have also been consistent with the facial feedback hypothesis.
This is because subjects are asked specifically to contract the facial muscles used to express emotions or asked to perform non-emotional tasks that require contraction of these muscles (Fritz, Sabine, & Leonard, 1988).
The findings reported that emotional feelings were strongest when a proper was enhanced as opposed to when it was suppressed. Holding the pen in different positions had a direct effect on the participants’ emotional response towards the cartoons but did not affect their rating of the cartoons.
Where participants are not helped in distinguishing between cognitive and affective aspects, their ratings will be an amalgam of both (Kraut, 1982).
Funniness rating was higher when the pen was held in the teeth as cartoons were shown and as the participants rated the cartoons. This is because; smiling was enhanced under this condition.
However, funniness rating was lowest when the pen was held in the lips because smiling was suppressed.
Where participants only held their pens in their experimental positions when rating the funniness rating for pens held in the teeth was lower than when pens were held in the lips (Ekman & Oster, 1982).
This implies that the funniness effect lasted a shorter time when participants’ experience was not accompanied by an inhibiting or enhancing factor than when both were present.
The facial feedback hypothesis envisages that the facial feedback has a direct impact on the emotional decision of an individual.
As such, it gives an explanation why those participants who were not aware of the distinction between the two factors of humor responses had their assessment of the cartoons influenced by the facial feedback.
Therefore, findings from this study clearly propose that the effective response to a stimulus intensifies with the facilitation and softening of an expression.
In addition, the implication of cognitive processes is that recognition of the emotional significance of an individual’s facial expressions should not affect the resultant emotional experience (Laird, 1974).
In this study, participants were made to focus more on the task expected of them to perform rather than their emotional responses towards stimuli.
As such, it helped minimize chances of them intentionally adjusting their emotional expressions according to the specific categories outlined to them. It is imperative to note that individuals utilize their facial expressions when inferring their intentions (Lanzetta, Cartwright-Smith, & Kleck, 1976).
Limitations of the Study
The most important aspect is the interplay between the various stimuli and an inner motor program. As a result, the study has not addressed exact mechanism needed for giving facial feedback.
There is a need to elaborately illustrate a proper methodology to be adopted in showing how the mechanism of facial feedback functions. Therefore, future studies should focus more on the different methodology, which removes all forms of confusion (Carlsmith, Ellsworth, & Aronson, 1976).
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Gavanski, I. (1986). Differential sensitivity of humour ratings and mirth responses to cognitive and affective components of the humour response. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 51, 209-214.
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Characteristics of Facial Feedback The brain is hardwired to use the facial muscles in specific ways in order to reflect emotions. When contracted, facial muscles pull on the skin allowing us to produce countless expressions ranging from frowning to smiling, raising an eyebrow, and winking.
Originally, the facial feedback hypothesis studied the enhancing or suppressing effect of facial efference on emotion in the context of spontaneous, "real" emotions, using stimuli. This resulted in "the inability of research using spontaneous efference to separate correlation from causality".
The Facial Feedback hypothesis predicts, in a counterintuitive way, that our facial movements can affect our feelings. So, if our brows are furrowed, we may come to see something as negative...
That's the idea that smiling can make you happier and frowning can make you sadder or angrier — that changing your facial expression can intensify or even transform your mood. Dick Van Dyke sang...
The facial-feedback hypothesis states that the contractions of the facial muscles may not only communicate what a person feels to others but also to the person him- or herself. In other words, facial expressions are believed to have a direct influence on the experience of affect.
The Facial Feedback Hypothesis states that facial expressions intensify emotions. Charles Darwin and William James (the father of psychology) were the originators of this concept. It has proven correct in multiple research studies beginning in the 1970s. More recent discussion regarding the facial feedback hypothesis has centered around a ...
The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that an individual's experience of emotion is influenced by feedback from their facial movements. To evaluate the cumulative evidence for this hypothesis, we conducted a meta-analysis on 286 effect sizes derived from 138 studies that manipulated facial feedback
The facial feedback hypothesis states that our facial expressions affect our emotions. If the facial-feedback hypothesis is correct, then not only do we smile when we feel happy, but smiling can make us feel happy, too. According to this hypothesis, in these cases, it is the act of smiling that produces a happy feeling.
The facial feedback hypothesis, rooted in the conjectures of Charles Darwin and William James, is that one's facial expression directly affects their emotional experience. Specifically, physiological activation of the facial regions associated with certain emotions holds a direct effect on the elicitation of such emotional states, and the lack ...
However, it has been suggested that features of the design of the replication studies may have influenced the study results. ... "To provide a foundational test of the facial feedback hypothesis, a large and diverse group of researchers came together to (1) specify their beliefs regarding when facial feedback effects should most reliably ...
Facial Feedback Hypothesis Lesson Summary Theories of Emotion People respond to experiences in the world around them through varying types of emotional states. Emotions are generally...
Facial feedback hypothesis is defined as a. the process by which the facial muscles send messages to the brain about the basic emotion being expressed. b. a state of arousal involving facial and bodily changes, brain activation, cognitive appraisals, subjective feelings, and tendencies toward action, all of which are shaped by cultural rules.
a. an intenal deficiency that energizes behavior b. the goals which reward our behavior and maintain behavior. c. internal processes that initiate, maintain, direct, and terminate activities. d. needs associated with impulses for self-actualization. Click the card to flip 👆 Definition 1 / 71 C Click the card to flip 👆 Flashcards Learn Test Match
The facial feedback hypothesis states that skeletal muscle feedback from facial expressions plays a causal role in regulating emotional experience and behavior. In essence, the same point that Charles Darwin stressed on when he suggested that physiological changes were not just consequences of an emotion, but also affected that particular emotion.
The facial-feedback hypothesis was a compelling finding, because it suggested that the tail wags the dog, so to speak: Your body's movements can affect your mood, not just the other way...
The facial feedback hypothesis (FFH) is the idea that, in addition to being affected by emotion, facial expressions actually affect emotion (Hess & Thibault, 2009). For instance, smiling has the power to make the person happy, whether they felt happy in the first place or not. While the veracity of FFH in the general population has been called
The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that individuals' emotional experiences are influenced by their facial expressions. For example, smiling should typically make individuals feel...
The `interpersonal facial feedback hypothesis' holds that in face-to-face contexts the hedonic tone of facial displays achieved through imitation should influence the underlying affect experienced by the partners. The link between facial imitation and affect can account in part for their attraction to the partner and situation.
This review evaluates four facial feedback hypotheses, each proposing a certain relation between the face and emotions. It addresses criticisms of the data, considers implications for emotional and social processes, and advises directions for future research.
Abstract The aim of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that the facial expression depicted by people is related to the effective emotional response. This study involves two experiments designed as a correctional alternative to the earlier versions that were associated with ambiguities. The first experiment focuses on the efficiency of the procedures used
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