The Loh Down On Science

Fear Factor

That look of fear may save your life.

Are you a drama queen? That could save your life!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

And on a new study that suggests our facial expressions may actually help us survive.

The idea was first suggested by Charles Darwin. A dozen years after writing "The Origin of Species," Darwin developed the notion that facial expressions are the same across cultures. Even in some animals.

He suggested that expressions serve a biological function, for example: helping us get a good look at an enemy.

But no one ever tested the theory--until now.

Researchers at the University of Toronto made computer-generated faces bearing classic looks: wide-eyed fear, scrunched-up disgust, and squinty-eyed suspicion. They had volunteers mimic the looks, and measured their breathing and vision.

Turns out Darwin was right. Wide-eyed fear improves peripheral vision, speeds eye movement, and increases air flow through the nostrils. This helps us escape from danger!

A look of disgust has the opposite effect. This shuts out substances that might be harmful.

Like the smell of Jovan Musk for Men. Although in that case a girl should squint then run.


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