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  • - If I asked you to show me a picture of your mother,

  • you wouldn't show me a, uh, closeup shot of her elbow.

  • But you could, and you'd be right.

  • That would be a photo of her,

  • but it wouldn't feel right because it's not her face.

  • That's how important faces are to us.

  • We're going to see if forcing a facial expression

  • can change the way we feel.

  • - Are you comfortable handling dog feces?

  • Okay.

  • - And if you remove the ability

  • to make facial expressions,

  • will it affect how you perceive emotions in others?

  • - What? - No.

  • - How could that--that--no.

  • - I don't think so.

  • - And what are we saying by raising an eyebrow?

  • Do you know?

  • [electronic music]

  • ♪ ♪

  • Why does doing this make me look angry?

  • And why does doing this make me look so happy?

  • Where does all this stuff come from?

  • When it comes to interpersonal communication,

  • it's easy to think that speech dominates,

  • but yet, we have hairless faces.

  • That's very unique among mammals

  • that are easy to see expressions on.

  • Facial expressions are shared across humanity.

  • A smile is a smile in any language.

  • Our faces seem uniquely adapted for communication.

  • Before we developed language, facial expressions

  • may have been just as vital in communication

  • as shouts and grunts.

  • And we, of course, still use them today.

  • But when it comes to facial expressions,

  • it's not just about seeing other people's expressions

  • and having them see yours.

  • It's also about seeing your own.

  • And the fact that our eyes are deep-set

  • allows us to see our own facial expressions

  • as we're making them.

  • If you smile, you can see

  • your own cheeks rise slightly.

  • And if you furrow your brow,

  • it encroaches on the top of your vision.

  • These things give you instant feedback

  • on the degree to which you are altering your face

  • and tell you instantly what sort of expression

  • you are putting out into the world.

  • No mirror required.

  • ♪ ♪

  • Some of the most interesting experiments

  • on facial expressions have asked, "What comes first?

  • The emotion or the facial expression?"

  • Studies have found that if you hold a pencil

  • between your teeth all day, you will have a better day.

  • Why? Well, because holding a pencil

  • between your teeth without your lips touching

  • is like smiling.

  • It uses pretty much the same muscles.

  • Watch.

  • [muffled] I don't know--

  • I don't know I'm smiling, but I am.

  • Conversely, pursing your lips around the pencil

  • is like frowning.

  • And studies have found that if someone does that,

  • they will actually report having a less good day.

  • Well, we're gonna put that to the test

  • and find out if the facial contortions you make

  • can subconsciously affect how you feel.

  • Studies on how physiology affects mood

  • go as far back as the 1800s,

  • with early research carried out by Charles Darwin

  • and French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne.

  • This work has continued into present day

  • using various techniques to create smiles and frowns.

  • But studies have been inconsistent

  • as to whether facial expressions

  • can influence emotions, so we wanted to see

  • if we could demonstrate a correlation between the two.

  • ♪ ♪

  • Hi. - Hi.

  • - Come on in, guys. Chris, my name is Michael.

  • Nice to meet you. My name is Michael.

  • We've recruited 20 volunteers

  • who think they're taking part in an allergy study.

  • Today we are testing a new kind of dog food,

  • and it actually seems to help dogs produce fewer allergens,

  • so people who are allergic to dogs

  • might be more comfortable around them.

  • And we're going to be using these allergen sticks.

  • Now, the purpose of this stick is to collect saliva

  • to check the way your body reacts

  • to possible allergens in the air.

  • Put it between your teeth like that, okay?

  • - Mm-hmm. - Okay.

  • - Half of our participants will be unknowingly forced

  • into a smile.

  • Yeah, very simple. - Uh-huh.

  • - The other half will unwittingly be forced

  • to use their frown muscles.

  • Watch. My teeth are together,

  • and then--hmm.

  • Got it? both: Mm-hmm.

  • - We're gonna give the frowners

  • and the smilers the same two tasks.

  • Go ahead, and I'll see you guys soon.

  • Will the people who were forced to frown

  • rank each task lower than those made to smile?

  • - Come on in.

  • - To test their levels of happiness,

  • our actor, Trin, gave our subjects a task

  • everybody loves: puppy herding

  • with lots and lots of puppies.

  • First up are our smilers.

  • - They're all wearing little tags.

  • - Mm-hmm. - So your job is to line them up

  • in alphabetical order. Once you got 'em all lined up,

  • I'll snap a photo of you. - Okay.

  • - And you got three minutes to do it.

  • Starting now. - Hello. I know.

  • - Make sure they're in alphabetical order.

  • - They're naming the dogs.

  • - She's having fun.

  • - I just got the--oh! Don't go away.

  • - [laughs]

  • - Swap those two.

  • - You got one minute left.

  • - This looks like fun,

  • but are they having even more fun

  • because they're being forced to smile?

  • - All right, get ready for the photo.

  • [camera shutter clicks]

  • - Our smilers are laughing

  • and goofing around. - Fantastic.

  • - Now, let's see how our frowners react

  • to this fun task.

  • - Three minutes. - [humming]

  • - He's running away from you. - [groans]

  • - The question is, will frowning emphasize

  • the parts that aren't fun-- in your mind, at least.

  • [dogs barking]

  • - Oh, we lost F.

  • Got one little strangler right over here.

  • - Ugh! - If the frowners seem

  • a bit frustrated herding puppies...

  • - [mutters angrily] - How will they like

  • their next task?

  • - If you would each grab a pair of gloves.

  • Are you comfortable handling dog feces?

  • Okay. And we're also going to be

  • looking at whether there are any protein deposits

  • that have collected, um, in the fecal matter.

  • - She's like, "Are you serious?"

  • - So go ahead and spread it out on the table.

  • - [stifled retching] - Ooh.

  • Not happy.

  • - And what you're looking for are small, hard deposits.

  • - Not much indication that there's a smile

  • trying to come through.

  • - Hmm. - Okay, great.

  • - [exhales] - Thank you, that'll do it.

  • - Our frowners don't seem

  • to be enjoying this assignment.

  • Will the smilers have a different reaction?

  • - Grab a pair of gloves.

  • It may be easier to kind of smear it and spread it out.

  • - The hypothesis is, that by smiling,

  • they'll focus more on the funny aspects

  • of what they're about to do.

  • - [laughs] Yeah. - Oh, my God.

  • - [laughs]

  • [groans] Oh.

  • - There's disgust in his eyes and his brow,

  • but his mouth can't help but smile.

  • - [chuckles] - Okay, great, guys.

  • Thank you so much. Then, when you're ready,

  • just follow me and we'll do a debrief with Mr. Stevens.

  • - Okay. - Sure.

  • - Hey, welcome back.

  • Now, think about, um,

  • organizing the puppies and taking a photo of them.

  • - Mmm. - And how you felt.

  • Tell me what you were thinking

  • and feeling while you were doing that task.

  • - I mean, the puppies are extremely cute.

  • - Mm-hmm. - Can I keep one?

  • Is it cool with you guys?

  • - The dogs actually cooperated pretty well.

  • - Mm-hmm? - I was able

  • to put them in order.

  • - They're amazing.

  • - It wasn't stressful.

  • - So on a scale of 1 to 10--

  • where 1 is you cannot tolerate it

  • and 10, best day of your life--

  • how would you rank the puppy photo task?

  • - I'm gonna say like a 9.

  • - 10. - 8.

  • - 8. - I'm gonna go with an 8.

  • - A 9.

  • - That's an average of 8.5

  • from our small sample of ten subjects

  • who were forced to smile during the photo assignment.

  • Now let's see how the frowners rated the same task.

  • How did you feel while you were doing that?

  • - Um, a little frustrated, to be honest with you,

  • 'cause they kept moving around.

  • - Well, it was difficult getting them to stay in place

  • and put them in order.

  • - How would you rank the photo taking task?

  • - Mmm, 4. - About 4.

  • - A 10. I love puppies.

  • - Still a 10? - Yeah, me too.

  • - I would go more on the middle ground,

  • maybe like 5.

  • - Many of the frowners reported

  • feeling frustrated with this experience,

  • tallying an average score of 7.4,

  • more than a point lower than the smilers.

  • Now let's talk about the poop checking job.

  • - Very unpleasant. - It was disgusting.

  • - How would you rank the poop checking task?

  • - 1--it was a 1. - A 1?

  • - It was for sure a 1. - 1.

  • - A 4. - Is a zero possible?

  • - Our frowning subjects

  • averaged a low score of 1.9.

  • The question is,

  • did our smiling group feel

  • any better about digging

  • through poo?

  • - It wasn't too uncomfortable.

  • - It was sort of unexpected, but it wasn't like it bothered me.

  • - I wasn't, like, disgusted like, "Ew! This is disgusting!"

  • I just kind of held my breath.

  • - Many of our smilers reported this unpleasant task

  • as being no big deal or actually funny.

  • - I'd say a 5 because it wasn't--

  • neither here nor there for me.

  • - It was a 5. - A high 4.

  • - 5, I guess. - A 5? Okay.

  • - 5, right in the middle.

  • - The average score

  • for the smiling group

  • was 4.3 out of 10.

  • Smilers enjoyed sifting through poop

  • an average of 2 1/2 points more than our frowners.

  • And have a great day. - Have fun with your poop.

  • - [laughs] I will.

  • I always do.

  • ♪ ♪

  • Our test found that people who made smile faces

  • enjoyed tasks more, and those who frowned

  • enjoyed them less.

  • This facial feedback concept

  • is still being debated though.

  • And other studies have recently failed

  • to reproduce these findings.

  • But it's a very healthy thing that we don't just look

  • at one test and say, "Well, that's it.

  • That must be the truth.