Mind

Can wearing sunglasses make you less of a jerk?

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Photo:Know Your Meme

It's easy to see that our feelings change our facial expressions. But can your facial expression change how you feel? Previous studies have suggested that this is the case, and that getting botox might actually make you happier because your resting facial expression is more pleasant. This study explores whether the frown-like face you make in bright sunlight can make you more aggressive. Turns out, it does--but fortunately, this effect can be prevented by wearing sunglasses.

Sun-induced frowning fosters aggressive feelings. "We tested whether aggressiveness can be triggered by the involuntary frowning that occurs when people face the sun, due to the fact that sun-induced frowning involves the same pattern of facial muscle activation as in the expression of anger (interestingly, Charles Darwin remarked on the sunshade-like nature of frowning). In line with data showing that experimentally and unobtrusively induced facial and body displays facilitate congruent feelings, we found that participants walking against the sun without sunglasses scored higher in a self-report measure of anger and aggression compared to those walking with the sun behind and/or wearing sunglasses. We also suggest that frowning at the sun affects mood very quickly, because we did not find any effect of walking time on self-reported aggressiveness. Our results provide the first evidence of the ecological validity of the facial feedback hypothesis."

Related content: Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Think you’re good at recognizing celebrities? Think again! Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Gaydar doesn't work as well on upside-down faces. Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Get angry. Get noticed.

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