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Fake it til you make it! Data shows smiling really does make people feel happier

Researchers at Texas A&M and the University of Tennessee came to the conclusion after studying nearly 50 years of data.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

SAN ANTONIO — If you're having a bad day or can't seem to shake a bad mood, try smiling, even if it's a fake one.

According to a paper for Psychological Bulletin, smiling can make people feel happier. 

Researchers at Texas A&M University and the University of Tennessee studied nearly 50 years of data to determine whether making a facial expression such as smiling or scowling could lead people to feel the emotions related with those expressions, happiness or anger, respectively. 

While researcher Nicolas Coles acknowledges that they "don't think that people can 'smile their way to happiness'" through the use of meta-analysis, they did find that posing facial expressions has a small impact on our feelings. 

The team combined data from 138 studies testing over 11,000 participants from all around the world. 

"We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work," Coles stated.

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