"Weird! Even Bizarre. [But Sooo Useful]"
It's the most lethal neurotoxin on the planet.
Inject just a fraction and it's effects are so powerful you'd die of complete paralysis within minutes.
So why do so many people want to inject themselves with this stuff?
Many people do. Every day. All around the world.What is it?
The wonder "must-have" cosmetic accessory that removes wrinkles by paralysing specific muscles in a person's face.
Courtney Cox, J. Lo, Nicole Kidman, Kim Kardashian, John Travolta and many others have all reportedly gone for it.
Yet as popular as it is, it has an unusual side-effect that few people know.
The ability to read people. Specifically to read the emotions of others accurately.
Researches at Duke University invited two groups to participate in a study.
Group 1 were people who had no botox.
Group 2 were people who had received botox treatments.
Researchers attached sensors to participants faces so they could monitor twitch response and muscle changes.
You see each of us has mirror neurons which play a very important role in learning and reading others.
Whenever we observe or interact with others, our facial muscles typically mirror at another than conscious level, the expressions that we are seeing on others.
People make tiny (and sometimes blindly obviously) muscles movement changes very quickly that give us highly useful information about what they are thinking and feeling.
The whole process happens very quickly, in as little as 30th of a second.
Our brains than use that data to help us identify what another person is feeling and use it to evaluate how to respond.
We laugh, we cry, we get angry etc. in part based on what we try on from others. These and many other emotions can be primed and triggered by the expressions of others in our environment.
Our brains aren't single self-contained units in our head. Instead, as science is revealing, you can think of them as being socially connected - where we playoff and try on the expressions of others - more akin to a highly interconnected social brain.
Anyways, back in the human lab at Duck, researchers showed the two groups a series of portrait photos of people on a computer screen and monitored the movements of their facial muscles.
As expected the faces of people in group 1 who had no botox moved more than those who had botox.
But what surprised researchers was what happened next.
They ran another test to both groups where they had the participants look at the facial expressions on a screen and choose the word on a list that most reflected the emotions they were seeing.
On average the botox group were less accurate at reading the emotions of the people on the screen, than the non-botox group.
The study has been repeated a number of times since with the same consistent results.
The conclusion researchers made:
"The lack of feedback for people with botox, from their own facial muscles, impairs their ability to read other people."
It goes the opposite way too.
Those of us who don't have botox have a more difficult time reading people who have had botox.
Why is this?
Because there is less movement of their facial muscles to read and 'try on' in order to come to an intuitive conclusion.
You see when we interact with other people, in a normal functioning brain, certain neurons in our face.
So remember this:
Next time you want to understand what someone is feeling, don't just try and "get into their world" and cognitively understand what they are saying.
Use your face!
Use your face to consciously try on the expression you are seeing, and you'll have greater access to what that person is feeling.
It's a handy tool to use. And so often overlooked. (It also has many other cool positive applications for influencing too…)
Even with people who are constantly grumpy or down, you can use your face as a tool to lead them into a more resourceful state.
Thanks to the mirror neuron response, their brains will be trying on your expressions; so use your face wisely!
To learn more about emotions and how to access, amplify or change them in yourself or others, check out this.
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