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Original Article

Smiling After Thinking Increases Reliance on Thoughts

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000131

The present research examines the impact of smiling on attitude change. Participants were first exposed to a story that elicited mostly positive thoughts (about an employee’s good day at work) or negative thoughts (about an employee’s bad day at work). After writing down their thoughts, participants were asked to hold a pen with their teeth (smile) or with their lips (control). Finally, all participants reported the extent to which they liked the story. In line with the self-validation hypothesis, we predicted and found that the effect of the initial thought direction induction on story evaluations was greater for smiling than control participants. These results conceptually replicate those obtained in previous research on embodiment (i.e., more favorable evaluations of stories when smiling; Strack, Martin, & Stepper, 1988) when participants had positive thoughts, but showed the opposite pattern of results (less favorable evaluations for smiling) for negative thoughts.

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