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Barnard Psychology Professors Lead Study Finding Botox Users Feel Weaker Emotions

New York, NY – Botox users are often ridiculed for stiff faces that appear unable to express emotions.  Researchers at Barnard College recently found that Botox users may not only be hindered in their ability to make facial expressions, they may actually in fact feel and experience weaker emotions.

The study, led by Barnard psychology professors Joshua Davis and Ann Senghas, suggests that facial expressions themselves may influence emotional experiences.  In short, Botox not only changes one’s appearance, it also affects real emotions.

“In a bigger picture sense, the work fits with common beliefs, such as ‘fake it till you make it,’” said Professor Davis who explains that “with the advent of Botox, it is now possible to work with people who have a temporary, reversible paralysis in muscles that are involved in facial expressions. The muscle paralysis allows us to isolate the effects of facial expression and the subsequent sensory feedback to the brain that would follow from other factors, such as intentions relating to one’s expressions, and motor commands to make an expression. With Botox, a person can respond otherwise normally to an emotional event, e.g. a sad movie scene, but will have less movement in the facial muscles that have been injected, and therefore less feedback to the brain about such facial expressivity. It thus allows for a test of whether facial expressions and the sensory feedback from them to the brain can influence our emotions.”

Professor Davis studies emotion, and in particular, works on understanding how emotional experiences arise and how to change them.  His primary line of research addresses the role that bodily states and movements play in determining emotions. He was the recipient of the American Psychosomatic Society Program Committee distinction for research.

Read the abstract and the full study at http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/emo/10/3/433/.

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  1. this is only

    funny because the test subjects were probably barnard faculty

  2. Obviously

    They get all Botulinum Toxintrospective.

  3. well...

    As a biochem major, psychology is generally the bane of my existence (http://xkcd.com/435/), but this actually makes a lot of sense. Facial expressions probably have more functions than just communication, so if you miss out on the expected pleasure sensation from smiling, your overall sense of pleasure will be diminished. Of course, it might be the botox in my face that prevents me from finding this funny.

    • yeah  

      this isn't particularly astonishing. there's a feedforward mechanism from facial muscles to brain. there was a study from awhile back that concluded that subjects made to hold a pencil between their teeth (forcing a smiling-type face), self report happier feelings than subjects made to balance pencil between nose and upper lip (forcing a frown)

    • hrngh

      I have so much hate for that particular strip. From its fixation on the purity myth to its conflation of truth with fact, all it says to me is, "Thinking about people is haaaaard."

      Over-privileged bullshit.

    • Here  


      You're welcome. For the record, anyone who thinks that comic strip bears any resemblance to scientific reality...doesn't understand scientific reality.

  4. So what?

    This is not gonna stop me from using Botox when the time comes and lol @ the first comment FYI- Columbia has women faculty too dont think it is only Barn-yard

  5. Can we please ...

    use our resources to research medical issues that actually matter?

  6. WHY?

    Why is my comment from 6pm still "awaiting moderation?" Although as I post this, I realize that it's probably never going to be seen either.

    captcha: affair fancying

    • Eliza  (Bwog Staff)

      We automatically moderate comments with links in them to avoid spam, and usually comments with normal links (like yours) are accepted within a few minutes, but we're on a slower summer schedule. Sorry about that, it's up now.

  7. Harmony Hunter

    this explains EVERYTHING

  8. like

    this post title. Well played guys.

  9. Alum

    Is it just coincidence that Joan Rivers was Barnard '54?

  10. Biggest

    Barnard accomplishment yet...at least these guys don't pretend they work at columbia

  11. Whatwhat

    J. Davis! I didn't think it was possible to love him any more...

    If only I could find a way to make him pull some sexy faces in my direction.

  12. Anonymous

    This is not unimportant research. A lot of "medical" research follows avenues that turn out to be fruitless, or repeats experiments needlessly just to keep the lab workers busy or to hang on to grant money. But this Botox study is telling us something about how the body and mind are connected. That's significant.

    The physical act of smiling can actually make you feel better, even when you're depressed. That has been proven. This is the converse: does an inability to physically smile have a negative affect on your mood? Just because Botox is involved doesn't mean the experiment is shallow. The experiment isn't ABOUT Botox. That's like saying that using synchronized swimmers to study the long-term effects of weightlessness on the human body -- research NASA has actually conducted, to apply to the health of astronauts -- is just a study about synchronized swimmers. No, it's a study about the body's response to its environment.

  13. Anonymous  

    hey where can i get free condoms on campus during the summer ?

  14. Anonymous  

    actually i am a barnard student....

  15. Free

    condoms suck. They are rubbery and smell funny (and are more likely to break). Just splurge on real Trojans mate.

  16. Can we stop

    Reffering to Barnard is Barnyard. Jesus Fuck just respect both schools!

    • Anonymous

      It's the easiest way that BWOG can stir up the pot. They post articles that will flare up both sides and then sit back with their disclaimer (see top of page) "We’re gonna sit this punchline out." Think back to the recent post on prospective students at Barnard in which hideous comments were made. It's cheap journalism, yes. It makes Columbia College students look small and grossly immature. But hey... it keeps people reading the BWOG.

      • Eliza  (Bwog Staff)

        We do not exist to start fights on the Internet between Columbia students. We post things that we think will be interesting to Columbia students, and when that email popped up into our inbox we just thought it was a funny email and that other people might find it funny, interesting, amusing, etc. A Bwog mantra is that if you see or hear something that you would want to tell your friend, we'll post it, as long as it's reasonably appropriate. That's it! People fighting with each other anonymously on the Internet is not what drives Bwog, never has been, and never will be as long as Bwog continues to be a site people are interested in reading. Cheap journalism has nothing to do with how our readers react to our posts. We don't write these comments! If you have any more comments or questions, or want more of a sense of how we decide what goes up on the site, I'll be happy to illuminate. Email me at [email protected] Thanks for reading, and we mean that!

        • dear Eliza

          From all your defense of BWOG mandates, I can see how awful it must make you feel when someone takes a cheap shot at your organization. I believe you when you say that BWOG doesn't "exist to start fights on the Internet between Columbia students" but whoever starts them, surely you can see how this forum provides the perfect soil for some students to throw plenty of manure around. Is there something that could be done to discourage the insults as clearly it is a negative experience for the givers and the receivers.

          • Eliza  (Bwog Staff)

            Thanks for the response, and yes, I can absolutely see how this can be a forum for people to bicker on the Internet. Sometimes that bickering is okay, and sometimes it isnt, and what we do now is the following: moderate comments strictly according to a comment policy that seeks to prevent any comments along the lines of "that person is ugly or stupid"-- we don't want the fighting to get personal and nasty like that, but if people choose to use this forum to talk about Barnard versus Columbia all day long, we will moderate the comments but we can't stop those fights. We stress at every opportunity that we want Bwog to be a place where people come to talk to each other and get free food and read about what's going on at their school-- at Bitch Box, we stood outside Butler and yelled "please don't be mean to each other on the Internet!"

            I want to make that mantra as public as possible, but there are things that cannot be prevented. If we think an email, or a photo, or an overheard will make a good, appropriate post, we will post it. We have stopped posts and features-- see the lack of "As Seen on College Walk" because the fighting was simply getting too nasty and personal for us to moderate, and we will always be open to suggestions as to what features/posts encourage the worst kind of Bwog commenting on here. Sometimes, however, these arguments seem to spring up out of nowhere, and sometimes they have to stay.

            We're absolutely open to any new ideas as to how to discourage insulting Bwog comments and the like- email us at [email protected] or me at [email protected] Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to comment on an issue that we think about A LOT and need more Bwog-readership feedback on.

          • Anonymous

            what about a researched post on the four schools of Columbia University? Perhaps a sit-down with people at the top who could cut through the mud-slinging (and maybe even comment on it). Then, maybe, there would be peace in the land.

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