Here’s something to keep in mind the next time you’re networking or working with guests. People in social situations simulate others’ facial expressions in order to create emotional responses in themselves, according to a recent study. For example, if you see someone smiling, you may “try on” the smile yourself without knowing you’re doing it so you can understand what the other person is feeling. This is often completed in a few hundred milliseconds.
“You reflect on your emotional feelings and then you generate some sort of recognition judgment, and the most important thing that results is that you take the appropriate action—you approach the person or you avoid the person,” said Paula Niedenthal, a social psychologist at the University of Wisconsin. “Your own emotional reaction to the face changes your perception of how you see the face, in such a way that provides you more information about what it means.”
Here’s an infographic, also, to help explain it.
(Image: Adrienne Wood)