What if you smile at the Covid-19 vaccine ?

You do not want to get vaccinated because you fear the pain of the injection ? Smile ! 

A new study, led by scientists from the University of California and Kansas found that either smiling (or grimacing) could reduce the acute pain sensation of a needle injection by as much as 40%. 

To do so, searchers choosed to manipulate the facial expressions of their 231 participants before and during an injection of saline solution in their upper arm.

For the experiment, they used four different facial expressions: either a Duchenne smile -a smile that involves the activation of the usual muscles that are mobilized during a common smile-, a non-Duchenne smile, a grimace, or a neutral expression. 

Those in the Duchenne smile and grimace groups reported, through body measurements and self reported questionnaires -about pain, emotion and distress-, that the needle injection hurt only about half as much versus those in the neutral control group. Both of these facial poses seem to improve the subjective needle pain experience, making the experience hurt less  and  even less stressful.

So next time you’re getting a vaccine -maybe the Covid-19 one- and feeling anxious about the pain, try to smile or you could always grimacing.. !

Pressman,  S.  D.,  Acevedo, A.  M.,  Hammond, K. V., &  Kraft-Feil, T.  L. (2020).  Smile (or grimace) through the pain? The effects of experimentally manipulated facial expressions on needle-injection responses. Emotion, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000913

Blog writer: Elisa Dautricourt

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