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Faking Smiles Makes Mood Worse

Smile! But Only If You Mean It

I've always been suspicious of indiscriminate happiness, so I feel vindicated today against the forces of oppressive cheer. A new study — a real one, not funded by Canna Cola, the medical marijuana soda, or published in an advertorial — has found that faking happiness only makes us feel worse.

The New York Times talked to the author of the study, Brent Scott, assistant professor of management at Michigan State University, and he said faking happiness not only worsens moods but also decreases productivity at work. His team followed around bus drivers for two weeks, because their jobs require courteousness while dealing with many, often uncourteous, people. When drivers forced smiles, their moods and productivity declined, but when they were asked to cultivate the smile from a more authentic place (i.e. pleasant thoughts and memories), their mood and productivity increased.

So while forced smiles may lead to a dead end, it sounds like happy thoughts are still in?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
Pistil Pistil 6 years
Sometimes it's helpful to focus on the positive, even when you're down, but in this study anyone who's ever worked in the service industry knows that there's nothing rewarding about not having your courtesy returned.
Pistil Pistil 6 years
I thought this was a no brainer... who wants to grin and bear it over being genuinely happy?
tjfranco tjfranco 6 years
Isn't a smile the shortest distance between two people? I'm sure if you smile the response you get back is infectious enough that you feel the effects of the real thing.
Tabloid Tabloid 6 years
I don't know about that but I wear my emotion on my face. I'm real. I hate fake ass people. I would only smile back to a certain people if they're smiling at me when I'm in a bad mood.
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