Smile, But Only If You Mean It

In a recent study published in the Academy of Management Journal, researchers followed a group of bus drivers for two weeks. They selected this group because bus drivers generally must engage in frequent, and hopefully courteous, interactions with people.

The study examined what transpired when the drivers engaged in “fake smiling,” also known as “surface acting.” This was compared with “deep acting,” described as authentic smiles through positive thinking.

The researchers concluded that when the bus drivers forced a smile, their moods deteriorated, and they tended to withdraw from work.  The attempt to suppress those negative thoughts, apparently, may create the persistence of these memories.

On the other hand, when the bus drivers tried to display smiles associated with pleasant thoughts and memories, their overall moods improved, and their productivity increased. Overall, the study concluded that hiding displeasure with an inauthentic smile may actually worsen your mood.