Science: Fake Smiling at the Office Actually Makes You Miserable

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This guy makes us smile, though. Photo: iStockphoto.com

Anahad O'Connor, the Times genius who writes the "Really?" column in the Science section, often lunges into the extremely obscure to find answers to pseudo-scientific urban legends. But today he addresses something that affects most people: Having to pretend smile at people at work.

New research suggests that it may have unexpected consequences: worsening your mood and causing you to withdraw from the tasks at hand... The scientists examined what happened when the drivers engaged in fake smiling, known as “surface acting,” and its opposite, “deep acting,” where they generated authentic smiles through positive thoughts, said an author of the study, Brent Scott, an assistant professor of management at Michigan State University.


After following the drivers closely, the researchers found that on days when the smiles were forced, the subjects’ moods deteriorated and they tended to withdraw from work.

Luckily, this doesn't affect we bloggers, who don't communicate verbally anymore. Literally, when someone comes over to our desks to talk, we call it "IMing in person." And we avoid it at all costs.

The Claim: A Fake Smile Can be Bad for Your Health [NYT]