Research regarding the anti wrinkle treatment Botox suggests that smiling may actually make you happier. Not being capable of smiling when you feel happy feeds information back to the brain that actually reduces the intensity of a person’s happiness. Botulinum is a highly toxic protein that is found in Botox injections, and it is used to temporarily paralyze the muscles of a person’s face, allowing wrinkles to smooth out. The means that there will be no smile or frown lines, but it also means that a person who receives the injections will not be able to move their face to express their emotions.

Recent research has found that this inability to move the muscles of the face may actually reduce our ability to feel the emotions as well. People with a limited amount of control over their facial muscles were found to also have a limited ability to feel the emotions they would otherwise be conveying. In people with normal control of their facial muscles, the brain receives feedback from the face causing them to feel the emotion more intensely. When these muscles are paralyzed, the person will still feel the initial emotions prior to the facial expression, but this lack of feedback from the face causes the emotion feel more dull.

Joshua Davis and Ann Senghas led a team of researchers at Barnard College in New York, performing research on how Botox effects people’s ability to feel emotions. The control group was given Restylane, an injection in the lips or wrinkles in the face that either puffs up the lips or smooths out the wrinkles. They were given Restylane because it has a similar cosmetic effect to Botox but does not limit their ability to move the muscles in their faces.

In comparison with the people who received the Restylane injections, the people with Botox injections were less able to feel their emotions across the board. When shown video clips that cause most people to feel happy, the people who had received Botox injections reported a lower score than the control group. It was also a lower score than before they had received the Botox injections.

The theory that feedback from the face influences the way that we feel dates back more than a hundred years. These experiments provide more evidence suggesting that our facial expression does more than just convey what we are feeling. Smiling actually causes you to feel happier.