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Which makes you happier: laughing, smiling, or howling?

Seriously, Science?
By Seriously Science
Apr 24, 2014 3:00 PMNov 20, 2019 4:42 AM


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Photo: flickr/francisco_osorioYou've probably heard that forcing yourself to smile or laugh can actually improve your mood. But which is better, and could howling work as well? In this study, researchers had subjects perform "60 sec. of broad smiling, 60 sec. of forced hearty laughter, and 60 sec of howling." Turns out that laughter is the best medicine for improving your mood, followed by smiling. Howling, unfortunately, had no substantial effect (though perhaps it relieved some stress?). We just like imagining a lab full of howling subjects while scientists look on with clipboards.

Effects of laughing, smiling, and howling on mood.

"This study examined the effects of forced laughter on mood and compared laughter with two other possible mood-improving activities, smiling and howling. While howling did not substantially improve mood, both smiling and laughing did. Moreover, laughter seemed to boost positive affect more than just smiling by 22 adults." Related content: NCBI ROFL: Presidential laugh lines. Candidate display behavior and audience laughter in the 2008 primary debates.NCBI ROFL: "Laughing at yourself": you're doing it wrong.NCBI ROFL: Science: taking the magic out of children’s laughter since 1993.

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