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The Motivational Power of the Happy Face


Nikitin, Jana; Freund, Alexandra M (2019). The Motivational Power of the Happy Face. Brain Sciences, 9(1):6.

Abstract

People who are cheerful have better social relationships. This might be the case because happy faces communicate an invitation to interact. Thus, happy faces might have a strong motivational effect on others. We tested this hypothesis in a set of four studies. Study 1 (N = 94) showed that approach reactions to happy faces are faster than other reactions to happy or angry faces. Study 2 (N = 99) found the same effect when comparing reactions to happy faces with reactions to disgusted faces. Supporting the notion that this effect is related to motivation, habitual social approach motivation intensified the motivational effect of happy faces (Study 3, N = 82). Finally, Study 4 (N = 40) showed that the reaction-time asymmetry does not hold for categorization tasks without approach and avoidance movements. These studies demonstrate that happy faces have a strong motivational power. They seem to activate approach reactions more strongly than angry or disgusted faces activate avoidance reactions.

Abstract

People who are cheerful have better social relationships. This might be the case because happy faces communicate an invitation to interact. Thus, happy faces might have a strong motivational effect on others. We tested this hypothesis in a set of four studies. Study 1 (N = 94) showed that approach reactions to happy faces are faster than other reactions to happy or angry faces. Study 2 (N = 99) found the same effect when comparing reactions to happy faces with reactions to disgusted faces. Supporting the notion that this effect is related to motivation, habitual social approach motivation intensified the motivational effect of happy faces (Study 3, N = 82). Finally, Study 4 (N = 40) showed that the reaction-time asymmetry does not hold for categorization tasks without approach and avoidance movements. These studies demonstrate that happy faces have a strong motivational power. They seem to activate approach reactions more strongly than angry or disgusted faces activate avoidance reactions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:7 January 2019
Deposited On:27 Feb 2019 12:11
Last Modified:01 Mar 2019 01:10
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:2076-3425
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9010006
PubMed ID:30621081
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_126868
  • : Project TitleThe Role of Age

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