Smiling and Stress
An interesting research report, by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman, will soon be published in Psychological Science. Their research speaks directly to well-being, psychological and physical, and the link between these two spheres. The researchers wondered about the effects of smiling on physiological recovery from stress.
The innovation of their research was that they deliberately manipulated whether participants were smiling or not — making this a true experiment — and further took steps to avoid “demanding” hypothesized responses from these participants*.
Kraft and Pressman (2012) studied 169 college students, telling them that their investigation concerned multi-tasking. Participants were hooked up to a monitor that assessed their heart rate in beats per minute throughout the entire experiment. Heart rate is a simple and reliable way to measure experienced stress — the higher the rate, the more stress someone is experiencing.