Fake smiles aren’t merely unconvincing—they can damage your mental health, says a new study in the Academy of Management Journal.
Researchers studied bus drivers, who have frequent interactions with people, and found that those who flashed forced smiles suffered deteriorated moods and more persistent negative thoughts. They also became withdrawn from the tasks at hand.
But when drivers smiled genuinely, as a result of focusing on pleasant thoughts, their moods improved and their productivity increased.
Women were more affected than men. That may be because women are socialized to be more expressive, and thus hiding emotions causes more strain, said researcher Brent Scott, an assistant professor of management Michigan State University.