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  1. 1. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 1 The Effects of Facial Expressions on Positive Affect Lorelle Moses Department of Psychology Brackett Hall, 121 Clemson University Clemson, SC lmoses@g.clemson.edu
  2. 2. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 2 The Effects of Facial Expression on Positive Affect Introduction Within psychology, much research has been conducted on facial expression and perception. Our research specifically focuses on the effects of smiling on positive affect while performing mundane tasks such as filling out a survey. The Self-Perception Theory can be defined as the following according to Schnall and Laird et al., “…we must infer our internal states from our actions…. feelings are the consequences of behavior, not the causes: we feel happy because we smile, and angry because we scowl” (Schnall & Laird, 2003). This means the way we feel is a direct result of our behaviors. Furthermore, more recent research by Paredes, Stavraki, Brinol, and Petty (2013), has shown that not only does our behavior influence our thought content, but also how we feel about our thoughts. This topic is important because the results could help with other areas of psychology such as counseling and using our information to further help patients who struggle with their self-perception. Likewise, by using positive affect to enhance ones view of self. Additionally, research has shown that, “… smiling is a positive behavior that often leads to positive evaluations” Paredes, et al, 2013, further providing evidence facial expression greatly influences positive affect and self-perception. For our study, the basic structure of Strack Martin and Steppers experiment completed in 1988 will be used. In this study they had participants hold a pen between their teeth while watching cartoons. They were then asked to judge the cartoons afterwards. The participants were not aware that holding the pen between their teeth caused them to smile. The study concluded that the subjects found the cartoons funnier when they were preforming this action. This research indicates that facial expressions and behaviors are directly linked to our perceptions and attitudes of situations. This theory is heavily rooted in social psychology by linking our behaviors with embodied attitudes. Embodied attitudes are the act of personifying an attitude that consist of
  3. 3. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 3 mental schemas that contain heuristics for how we act, feel, and behave in that situation. The study done by Strack Martin and Steppers (1988) further concluded that individuals are more likely to perceive things in a positive manner if they smile while doing them. It is hypothesized that there will be a statistical difference between the pen and no pen group in the experiment due to the results of previous studies. I.e the Strack Martin and Stepper (1988) study mentioned previously found that participants holding a pen between their teeth while preforming such task have felt more positively after the study. This gives implications that positive affect could be used to improve one’s perception of self. Furthermore, the research conducted could further improve counseling techniques and methods used for depressed and anxious patients. We will use this study as an outline for our research to further develop our knowledge on how the participant’s self-perception varies with mindful behaviors such as holding a pen in your mouth, which causes you to smile. Moreover, it would be interesting to see how the participant’s perception varied according to gender and class rank, in addition to group assignment. By studying both variables, we may be able to obtain a more accurate representation of the relationships that predict positive affect. In another study conducted by Laird 1974 he studied self-attribution in relation to expressive behavior and how we feel. Self-attribution can be defined as, “… individuals assign themselves attributes as the result of a process of inference from their behavior and its context. Thus, people are presumed to know what their emotions are by inference from what they say and do” (Laird, 1974). This study also relates to ours in that the research attributes ones attitudes as a result of ones behaviors. Laird et al. gives the following example about this relationship, “… I am angry rather than euphoric or frightened because I am frowning, clenching my fists, and gritting my teeth, and I am angry rather than just annoyed because my heart is pounding, I have butterflies in my stomach, and I feel flushed” (Laird, 1974). This example demonstrates how we associate our feelings or attitudes to certain behaviors and facial expressions. Each feeling has a set of
  4. 4. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 4 characteristics that form a certain attitude such as being angry. These phenomena can be applied to other areas of psychology such as dealing with one’s positive affect. It can be hypothesized that associating more positive attitudes with a behavior would create a better self-perception of how you view the task. Thus, when applied to a counseling setting, applying more positive attitudes to one’s life and associating them with certain behaviors could possibly enhance one’s outlook on life and perception of ones selves. Likewise, repeating this experiment using other emotions such as honesty or aggression would produce interesting outcomes. In addition, the results could be applied to other settings like the workplace. In the experiment to be conducted, the participants will be divided into two groups: one the control group and the other our independent variable. The control group will contain the individuals not asked to hold a pen in their mouth and the independent variable group will contain participants asked to hold a pen in their mouth. Due to the nature of the study, we cannot deceive the participants, so they will be aware that this action will cause them to smile. Because of this fact, there will be some sampling error in our study. For this study we plan to have a group that is told to smile while filling out a survey and a control group who was not told to do so while participating in mundane tasks. Our independent variable being manipulated will be whether we tell the participants to hold a pen in their mouth or not. Our dependent variable will be their perception of the survey after. We will operationalize our independent variable by using the PANAS survey to observe their emotional reaction after filling out the survey. Methods Participants A convenience sample of 44 undergraduate students who attend a well-known public university in the Southeastern United States partook in this study. The study was in person and required a pen and a copy of the article per participant for a timed reading. Additionally, a
  5. 5. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 5 stopwatch was needed to time the 5 minute reading portion of the experiment and a laptop to administer the random number generator. The participants were both male and female students who were 18 and older. The study was based on voluntary response and students in certain classes at the university received .5 points to participate. Both groups were then instructed to complete a timed reading of the Declaration of Independence. After this task was finished, participants were further instructed to complete a PANAS fulfillment survey. A between-subject design was used to ensure participants were only part of one condition. Participants were placed into groups using a random number generator. Materials Pen for Manipulation of Facial Expression Participants (N=25) selected into the treatment group were instructed to hold a pen between their teeth horizontally. The act of holding a pen between one’s teeth forces a smile, thus providing our manipulation of happiness. The pen was controlled by giving participants a pen to use in the study so that the size and shape of the pen did not factor into any data obtained. Participants were then instructed to hold the pen between their teeth while reading an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence. Copies of this document were given to each participant for them to read. Following the timed five minute reading using a stopwatch we administered the PANAS fulfillment survey. This survey provided an identifiable way to measure happiness. Declaration of Independence The Declaration of Independence was given to each participant to read for five minutes. This was meant to simulate the completion of a mundane task. PANAS (The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule)
  6. 6. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 6 The PANAS survey was used to test the effects of positive facial expressions, specifically happiness for our study, on self-perception. The assessment, however, was originally developed by Watson, Clark, and Tellegen (1988), to test for both positive and negative affect. The PANAS survey also tested for the affect in relation to time. The survey consists of 20 self-response questions. Participants are asked to rate 10 negative and 10 positive emotions on a 5 point scale, similar to that of a Likert scale. The individuals score comprised of the emotion (positive or negative) which was more prevalent was based on their responses. Dependent Variable: Survey Responses Participants were instructed to respond to the 20 item PANAS survey after a timed reading of the Declaration of Independence. The survey responses were initially used for qualitative data, but were later used in the analysis. They were instructed to respond with what best described them. Once the surveys were obtained statistical analysis of the data was conducted to obtain quantitative results. Control Group The participants (N=19) placed into this group were also instructed to complete a 5 minute timed reading of the Declaration of Independence. Participants in this group were not asked to place a pen between their teeth while doing so. Participants were then asked to complete a 20 item PANAS fulfillment survey. They were told to fill out the survey with answers that best described them. After doing so participants were debriefed and dismissed. Design Participants were randomly assigned to two groups using a random number generator: the treatment group which was instructed to hold a pen between their teeth (N=25), while
  7. 7. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 7 participants in the control group were not (N=19). The treatment condition was designed to artificially cause the participants in the treatment group to smile, whereas the control condition did not cause forced smiles. All of the participants were administered the PANAS, which consisted of a 2 group between-subject design, which tested for differences in affect between groups. Procedure This study collected qualitative data through observation and quantitative data obtained after administering the PANAS survey. Participants were led to believe that the study was collecting data on physical and mental multitasking while completing a mundane tasks. Participants in each group were instructed to read the article provided within five minutes. The article was an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence. Participants were given a copy and a pen if in the treatment group. Participants in the treatment group were instructed to hold a pen between their teeth while reading and the control group were not. After reading, a PANAS survey was administered to each group to measure the participant’s positive and negative affects once completing the timed reading. After completing the survey participants were debriefed and dismissed from the study. Results The PANAS survey consisted of 20 categories and two variables positive and negative affect. The Cronbach’s alphas for the 10 positive items was (α=.837) and the 10 negative items was (α=.685). Since there was no variance between the two groups the test was found highly reliable for both scale variables. The positive affect among participants in the pen group were more positive than that of the non-pen group. An Independent t test was used to test for significance between the two groups.
  8. 8. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 8 In our sample, participants in the pen group scored significantly higher than those in the non-pen group (t(42) = .273, p=.649). The means for these two groups appear in Table 1. Additionally, refer to Table 2 for more information pertaining to the skew and variance between the positive and negative affect scores. An Independent t test was used to test for significance between gender and positive and negative affect scores. Females responded significantly more negatively than males (t(31.492)= - 5.486, p=.015). The means and standard deviation are listed in Table 1. Furthermore, Table 3 provides more information pertaining to the variation amongst negative affect scores in males and females. There was no statistical difference between class rank and positive affect. A One Way ANOVA was used to test for significance between the two groups. An alpha was set at .05 for analysis. The main effect of class rank was not statistically significant for positive affect (F(3,40)= .785, p > .05). Refer to Table 1 for the mean and standard deviation for class rank and positive affect. Discussion The first hypothesis did not produce the expected results that the pen group would have a higher positive affect score than the no pen group. The results from our first independent t test instead indicated that there was no difference in scores between the pen and no pen group. Additionally, there was no variance between positive and negative affect scores and the PANAS survey was found highly reliable. The skew and variance is further shown in Table 2. Furthermore, the two groups had an unequal number of participants which could account for our findings that the two groups were not statistically different.
  9. 9. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 9 Our results did not match up with past studies results. The original study conducted by Strack Martin and Stepper (1988) consistently found that the group holding the pen between their teeth had higher positive affect scores. Sample size and sampling method could have accounted for these results. All participants used participated for extra credit, therefore, our sample was bias. Positive affect scores also tended to be more skewed in there distribution than negative affect scores. This could be due to confounding variables in the experiment, such as the time and day of the study. Since it was held on a Friday afternoon some participants might not have shown due to it being Friday or not needing the extra credit. Negative affect scores also tended to be higher in females than males as shown in Table 1. However, our sample only contained four males, which could account for this variance in scores between males and females. Additionally, our sample size consisted of 44 participants. A larger sample size might have made our distribution more normal and more representative of the entire population. To control for this future studies could use a better sampling technique, such as random sampling, so that participants would have a more equal chance of being placed into either the pen or no pen group. To further improve our research design participants across different majors would need to be included. Other confounding variables we found were that participants were distracted by their phones and were concerned about the length of the study. These factors may have caused outliers to occur that could account for no statistical differences seen between the pen and no pen group. Other students were concerned about the reason behind the pen and seemed to focus too much on this variable. To control better for this, we could have a false hypothesis that explained another reason for the pen.
  11. 11. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 11 References David, W., & Clark, L. A. (1994). Positive and negative affect schedule--expanded version. Psyctests, doi:10.1037/t04754-000; Full; Full text; 999904754_full_001.pdf Laird, J. D. (1974). Self-attribution of emotion: The effects of expressive behavior on the quality of emotional experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29(4), 475-486. doi:10.1037/h0036125 McKeown, G., Sneddon, I., & Curran, W. (2015). Gender differences in the perceptions of genuine and simulated laughter and amused facial expressions. Emotion Review, 7(1), 30-38. doi:10.1177/1754073914544475 Paredes, B., Stavraki, M., Briñol, P., & Petty, R. E. (2013). Smiling after thinking increases reliance on thoughts. Social Psychology, 44(5), 349-353. doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000131 Schnall, S., & Laird, J. D. (2003). Keep smiling: Enduring effects of facial expressions and postures on emotional experience and memory. Cognition and Emotion, 17(5), 787-797. doi:10.1080/02699930302286 Stins, J. F., Lobel, A., Roelofs, K., & Beek, P. J. (2014). Social embodiment in directional stepping behavior. Cognitive Processing, 15(3), 245-252. doi:10.1007/s10339-013-0593-x Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Positive and negative affect schedule. Psyctests, doi:10.1037/t03592-000; Full; Full text; 999903592_full_001.pdf
  12. 12. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 12 Table 1. Statistical Analysis of PANAS Survey Results Type of Test Variables Mean Standard Deviation Independent T-Test (Positive and Negative Affect across pen and no pen group) Positive Pen (N=25) No pen (N=19) Negative Pen (N=25) No pen (N=19) 2.0480 1.9947 1.4400 1.2474 .57599 .71916 .33292 .33060 Independent T-Test (Positive and Negative Affect across gender) Positive Male (N=4) Female (N=40) Negative Male (N=4) Female (N=40) 2.0500 2.0225 1.0500 1.3875 .41231 .65613 .05774 .34358 One Way ANOVA (Positive and Negative Affect across class rank) Positive Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Negative Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior 1.2000 1.9750 1.9857 2.141 1.2000 1.3333 1.3786 1.3647 0 .52419 .60492 .73149 0 .25702 .42459 .34630 Note. Each test contains different variables. I.e. The One Way ANOVA tested for the differences in scores in positive and negative affect across class rank. For each class rank there is a mean and standard deviation given.
  13. 13. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 13 Table 2. Positive and Negative Affect Scores Variation Note. There was a wider variation in positive scores, whereas the distribution for negative scores was less skewed. This means negative scores were relatively more reliable and consistent than positive affect scores.
  14. 14. Running Heading: FACIAL EXPRESSION AND POSITIVE AFFECT 14 Table 3. Variation of Negative Affect Scores across Gender Note. Males were labeled as “1” and females as “2.” Female scores showed they generally felt more negative emotions.