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Sun-Induced Frowning Tied to Aggression

Update Date: Jan 28, 2014 03:20 PM EST

Moods and facial expressions have been linked to one another for years. Researchers have studied how moods can alter facial expressions and vice versa. In a new study, researchers set out to examine the specific relationship between sun-induced frowning and the emotional state of the individual. They reported that when the face frowns as a reaction to the sun, it could create aggressive feelings.

For this study, the researchers headed by Daniele Marzoli recruited a total of 296 participants. There were eight groups of 37 participants based on factors such as gender, sun location and the use of sunglasses. The experiment was conducted at the beach where the sun was beaming. Some of the participants were given sunglasses whereas the rest of them did not have any sun-shielding accessories. The participants were also instructed to either walk with the sun in front of them or with the sun on their backs. Participants were split according to their gender.

After the experiment, the participants were given questionnaires that asked them about their personal feelings of anger and aggression. The questionnaires measured these levels based on an 11-point Likert Scale, with zero being "very little" and 10 being "very much." The researchers discovered that people who did not have sunglasses and walked in front of the sun reported higher levels of aggressive feelings in comparison to participants with sunglasses. These participants also felt more aggressive than the participants without sunglasses and had the sun on their backs.

During the analysis, the researchers could only use information on 137 females between 18 and 40-years old, and 145 males between 18 and 39-years-old. The researchers noted that the majority of the participants, however, reported feeling unaffected by the sunlight. In the cases where people felt aggression, the researchers found that the emotion was most likely triggered due to the irritation they felt from having the sun shine directly into their eyes. Marzoli worked with Mariagrazia Custodero, Alessandra Pagliara and Luca Tommasi.

The study, "Sun-induced frowning fosters aggressive feelings," was published in Cognition & Emotion.

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