Botox Illustrates Not Frowning Might Impair Ability to Feel Sadness & Anger
In the quest for a wrinkle-free forehead, Botox users may have also numbed some of their ability to process sad or angry emotions. As new research published in Psychological Science indicates, a study of Botox users may have led scientists to discover that our facial expressions affect our ability to understand and feel emotion conveyed in language. Maybe all of the Real Housewives are onto something after all.
In case you didn't get the memo, Botox is a drug that decreases the appearance of wrinkles. It's made from a toxin produced by bacteria that, when injected, acts as a nerve poison and deactivates muscles that cause wrinkles (it usually lasts for about four months).
The study focused on 40 people who had Botox injected into their foreheads, reducing their brow wrinkles and ability to frown. Researchers tested the subjects on their comprehension of written sentences about happy, sad and infuriating things both before and after their Botox treatment. The researchers found that, after receiving Botox, it took the patients the same amount of time to comprehend the happy sentences but it took them longer to understand the sad and angry sentences.
Turns out that having the ability to make facial expressions plays an important part in being able to understand language and process emotions. Normally, when you read something upsetting, the brain immediately sends signals to your face to frown, then your brain interprets the extent of the frown on your face to then process the emotion of being upset (seems kind of backwards, right?). When your ability to frown is impaired, it disrupts your brain's ability to understand the emotion and process its intensity.
So when you can't frown, things might just seem less sad or annoying. On the one hand, this could mean that folks who get Botox may be a little happier than the rest of us. But it also could suggest that Botox users might have a more difficult time in social situations, as a slowness to respond to emotional language could be interpreted by others as a lack of involvement in or understanding of the conversation at hand. Guess this makes country club cocktail parties a little more interesting.
With Botox on the rise, the world just might become a little happier--or slightly more emotionally detached--place.
University of Wisconsin-Madison (2010, July 19). Can blocking a frown keep bad feelings at bay? EurekAlert! Retreived from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-07/afps-cba071910.php