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Frozen Feelings: Botox Users May be Less Empathetic to Others

By HERWriter Guide
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Skin, Hair & Nails related image Photo: Getty Images

People who use Botox on their faces essentially freeze the parts that are injected, causing wrinkles to disappear and disallowing movement on that particular part. Done in small doses and by a qualified professional, a person can look quite good. But when people get several spots injected over a large portion of their face, they tend to look a tad blank. Too much and they could be mistaken for being the highlight of a Madame Tussaud special collection.

But something else has been discovered during study about people with Botox; researchers wanted to see if the lack of movement in those faces caused an emotional effect as well. As it turns out, it does. A collaboration between the University of Southern California, and the Duke University Fuqua School of Business concluded that the people without the ability to mimic the facial expressions of others (joy, anger, sorrow, etc.) also had more difficulty empathizing with them. And being devoid of this physical ability actually affected their ensuing emotional connection with them.

Because the vast majority of what and how we feel is shown in vocal tone, body language and facial expression (known as “embodied cognition” by the person on the receiving end), Botox interferes with this natural human ability.

Women were used in the testing--some using Botox and others using a wrinkle filler (as opposed to a wrinkle freezer) called Restylane. They were asked to analyze the emotions on a group of individual pictures showing facial expressions. Those who using Restylane were on a par with women who had nothing done to their faces in terms of a correct interpretation, while Botoxed women were less able to decipher the facial expressions (they got two more wrong per 36 pictures, compared to the other women).

In fact, the study seemed to show that the more expressions used, the easier women correctly deciphered the emotions of others. One group had a gel (like a mud pack) placed on their faces and had to work a little harder to move their faces. But this necessity seemed to give them more insight into interpreting the facial expressions and emotions of others.

More can be read on this study here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/fashion/botox-reduces-the-ability-to-empathize-study-says.html?_r=1&ref=health

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Have you used Botox? What do you make of this study?

Edited by Alison Stanton

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June 20, 2011 - 3:11pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.