Imitating Facial Expressions

The Ventura County Star has reported that people who get Botox often have trouble relating their emotions, which could prove a detriment to others.

Why would this affect others?  Well, according to David Neal of USC’s Dornsife College, people read each other’s emotions in part by imitating them.

Neal’s study suggests that in a sub-conscious process called micro-mimicry people mimic the emotions of others.  Botox complicates this process by smoothing out wrinkles and immobilizing muscles.

He purports, “This would happen in about a third of a second”, “My own body is telling me what that (look of) suspicion is – suspicion or maybe seduction.”

The study’s findings are published in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science.

According to the research, people were shown various photographs and asked to identify the emotion being shown.  The people receiving Botox picked out the right emotion about 70% of the time, which was about 7% less than people on the dermal filler (i.e. the control).

“It would mean that for every 15th person you would encounter, having Botox means you would make one more error in working out what emotion that person was feeling,” Neal went on to say.

Plastic surgeon, Dr. Laurie McCall, said that the study’s impact is likely to be pretty modest.  She cited a 2006 study that shown Botox to be a possible key ingredient in diminishing depression.  She suggest that anger lines and the reactions triggered from others may affect the way people feel, “For Lots of patients, they’re not coming in to look more beautiful or younger, they’re trying to find a way to look less stressed or angry.”

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