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Fake Smiles Trigger Real Emotions

Update Date: Jan 07, 2015 11:43 PM EST

Smiling cheers and frowning discourages, according to new research.

New findings revealed that people recall happiness when they smile and recall pain when they grimace.

"Theories of embodied emotion state that in order to process an emotion we first reproduce the facial movements of the expression induced by that emotion," lead researcher Jenny Baumeister from the International School of Advanced Studies said in a news release. "In practice, if we watch someone smiling, we tend to smile as well in order to appreciate what that person is feeling. We applied this finding to memory and assessed whether it is also true when we're trying to recall an emotion."

Researchers said the goal of the study is to examine whether acting out emotional expressions enhances a person's capacity to recall a corresponding emotion.

Participants in the study were asked to complete memory tasks involving emotion.  One task had participants remember emotions with their faces either completely free or molded by a mask designed to be "very similar to the ones normally used in cosmetics."

The latest findings revealed that participants performed significantly worse on memory tasks when fitted with masks compared to when their faces were "free".

"The data confirm the hypothesis that 're-enacting' the motor pattern associated with the emotion helps to recall that emotion. This suggests that even during the storage phase of memories, we also encode the motor information and re-use it during retrieval," study coordinator Professor Raffaella Rumiati said in a news release.

The latest findings are published in the journal Acta Psychologica.

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