Smiling, Makes You Feel Good!

Smiling Makes You Feel Good!

Research on the positive effects of smiling. Act now, think later - Fear not, politicians. That elusive feel-good factor can be created in an instant. Just appeal to our primal instincts, advises David Concar
27 April 1996
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Department stores opt for nice smells and muzak; impresarios use warm-up acts. But psychologist Sheila Murphy has an infinitely more devious way of getting people in the right frame of mind. First she sits them in front of a screen in her lab at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Then she flashes up images of smiling faces.

Nothing obviously devious about that: smiles make people cheerful. The rub is that Murphy's smiles last for just a few thousandths of a second. That's way too fast for the human brain to know what it's looking at. And yet, according to in-depth studies carried out over many years by Murphy, veteran emotions researcher Robert Zajonc and their colleagues, these split-second flashes of teeth and warmly wrinkled eyes induce a measurably more positive frame of mind.

It sounds crazy. How can people respond to facial expressions too short-lived to permeate...?

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Also check out the body language quiz on her YouTube Channel at