Wow! Who knew that a little botox to relax your frown muscles was going to leave you alone, friendless and a social outcast?
Let’s backtrack: where are they getting the idea for these articles?
It all goes back to some research that was presented on January 29th of this year. PhD candidate David Havas wanted to determine whether a botox treatment to the frown muscles would have any effect on how quickly an individual could read angry, sad and happy statements.
“To test how blocking a frown might affect comprehension of language related to emotions, Havas asked the patients to read written statements, before and then two weeks after the Botox treatment…Havas gauged the ability to understand these sentences according to how quickly the subject pressed a button to indicate they had finished reading it…The results showed no change in the time needed to understand the happy sentences. But after Botox treatment, the subjects took more time to read the angry and sad sentences. Although the time difference was small, it was significant, he adds.”
The interpretation that the above articles are putting on this research is this: your friends will notice if you are a fraction of a second slow to respond when they are angry or sad. They will immediately interpret this very slight hesitation to mean that you are not as empathetic to them and they will shun you.
Think about this for a second — your best girlfriend is telling you about the death of her grandmother. You are getting all kinds of cues from her — what she is saying, her body position, tears, tone of voice and so on — and you are reacting on so many levels, including remembering what has comforted your friend in the past, hugging her, grabbing the box of tissues. Do you really think that there will be any perceptible hesitation in your response to her? Of course not.
I can tell you from personal experience with botox in myself and in many people around me that we have not been turned into antisocial, unsympathetic loners.
What is even more interesting is a scientific article about this research suggests that botox will make you happier. And that will probably make you more socially successful.
“There is a long-standing idea in psychology, called the facial feedback hypothesis,” says Havas. “Essentially, it says, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you. It’s an old song, but it’s right. Actually, this study suggests the opposite: When you’re not frowning, the world seems less angry and less sad.”[Emphasis mine.]
Hmmm. Botox has been around for 20 years and hasn’t torn the fabric of society asunder yet. Maybe the writers of these articles should stick to what they know rather than making outrageous postulations.