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The broaden hypothesis, part of Fredrickson’s (1998, 2001) broaden-and-build theory, proposes that positive emotions lead to broadened cognitive states. Here, we present evidence that cognitive broadening can be produced by frequent facial expressions of positive emotion. Additionally, we present a novel method of using facial electromyography (EMG) to discriminate between Duchenne (genuine) and non-Duchenne (non-genuine) smiles. Across experiments, Duchenne smiles occurred more frequently during positive emotion inductions than neutral or negative inductions. Across experiments, Duchenne smiles correlated with self-reports of specific positive emotions. In Experiment 1, high frequencies of Duchenne smiles predicted increased attentional breadth on a global–local visual processing task. In Experiment 2, high frequencies of Duchenne smiles predicted increased attentional flexibility on a covert attentional orienting task. These data underscore the value of using multiple methods to measure emotional experience in studies of emotion and cognition.

Source: “Smile to see the forest: Facially expressed positive emotions broaden cognition” from Cognition & Emotion, Volume 24, Issue 2, 2010

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