When it’s bright outside, your face instinctively makes this scrunched up frown. You might think of it as a harmless reflex, but that sun induced frown might actually impact how you feel. One recent study tried to figure out whether frowning at the sun actually makes you angrier overall.
To conduct the study, the researchers surveyed random people walking along a beach or boardwalk. They asked people walking with and without sunglasses to take a quick survey that asked them about their feelings of anger and aggression. It is from these survey results that they concluded that those walking towards the sun without sunglasses were generally more angry from all the frowning. The authors write, “we found that participants walking against the sun without sunglasses scored higher in a self-report measure of anger and aggression compared to those walking with the sun behind and/or wearing sunglasses.”
Now, one obvious question about this study is whether the people they surveyed were unhappy because they were frowning, or were unhappy because they had sun in their eyes. The researchers thought of this. They also asked their participants about how much the sun was bothering their eyes, and accounted for that in their data analysis.
This idea that your facial expression can secretly change your mood isn’t new. Previous studies have suggested that even things like Botox can make you feel happier because you’re being forced to smile all the time. And the idea that frowning is related to the sun isn’t new either. Charles Darwin noticed the way that frowning helped to shade the eyes, writing in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals:
The currogators, by their contraction, lower the eyebrows and bring them together, producing vertical furrows on the forehead—that is, a frown.
So while Darwin probably didn’t wear sunglasses, you certainly can, and it might make you less of a grump.
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