Botox has been a hot topic lately, coming under fire for what we would consider underage use and being sold on discounted sites. It also recently made news for potentially harming your ability to read emotions, found in a study conducted by David Neal, Professor of Psychology at USC and Director and Co-Founder of EmpiricaResearch.com.au, a consumer and social research firm in Melbourne and L.A.
Neal recruited two groups of female patients, one group had received Botox, and the other had received Restylane, a dermal filler which does not paralyze the muscles. The groups then completed an “emotional mind reading” test which was originally developed in autism research.
Neal found that the patients who had received the Botox were 7% less accurate at reading the emotions than the Restylane group. What’s interesting to note here, is the Restylane group didn’t suffer at all, and may have even improved their emotional responses.
Since Botox is becoming an overwhelming norm in our society, these results are daunting when it comes to relationships. I spoke with Neal about the results, and he broke down the study for us, by explaining how we read facial expressions in our everyday life:
“In the study, we looked at whether Botox injections makes people less able to read other people’s facial expressions. The logic behind the study is that, when we are trying to read someone’s facial expressions, we subtly mimic those expressions. That is, we unconsciously simulate the expression using our own facial muscles. This mimicry occurs very rapidly (about 1/3rd of a second) and is very subtle, so the mimicry is not visible to the naked eye. By mimicking the expression, we can generate some information about the emotions you are feeling. Consequently, when your facial muscles are paralyzed via Botox injections, you are less able to mimic, and so less able to read other people’s emotions.”
Due to the fact that you are less able to read emotions, you may then be warranting some unwelcome complications in your personal life. As Neal put it, “It may be a little more difficult for you to glean the subtleties in someone else’s expressions for example, telling the difference between seduction and suspicion. They look very similar, and obviously making the wrong call on that one can have big consequences!”
So, if you’re happily settled down and considering Botox or already get it frequently you may want to reconsider. Neal said it best with, “If one person in the couple is having Botox consistently, it may be the case that their ability to emotionally connect with their partner may suffer…and hence, so too may the relationship. So, your partner may look better, but be less able to connect with you emotionally.”