Injecting Botox may affect the consumer's ability not only to express her feelings but also to read others emotions and communicate with them, a new study reveals.
Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) and Duke university found that individuals who have received Botox injections in their face are less successful in reading the emotions of other people than those who had used injectable cosmetic filler for relieving wrinkles.
People normally interpret and read others' emotions partly by unconsciously mimicking their facial expressions, said co-author David Neal of USC, so "if muscular signals from the face to the brain are dampened, you're less able to read emotions."
Researchers conducted two experiments, one on 31 women to compare Botox with Restylane, dermal filler, and the other on 56 women and 39 men, using a gel that temporarily lowers the effect of Botox on muscular signals.
Findings showed that the people who had used Botox were significantly less accurate at reading others' emotions than those who had injected Restylane, which does not paralyze facial muscles, researchers wrote in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
In addition, a significant improvement was noted in the ability of reading others' emotions in those who regained the movement of their facial muscles using the anti-Botox gel.
"People are getting a lot of Botox to look better according to standards of culture, but they may be paying some subtle indirect cost in terms of losing ability to read the emotions of other people," Neil said.
When the muscles surrounding the eyes are immobilized by Botox, the individual would become unable to fully reproduce the emotional expression of a conversation partner. However, when the facial muscles are amplified, the individual would become better at the perception of emotion, he added.
"Our ability to read others' emotions isn't something that takes place solely in the head," Neal explained. "Our emotional intelligence does depend partly on our ability to listen to our own bodies, and if we don't or can't do that, our emotional world gets diminished."
It is too early to realize whether there are other ways through which people would compensate for this emotional disconnect, he said. However, "it is a fairly subtle effect. People are not becoming automatons."
"It's just a matter of weighing whether the aesthetic and self-esteem boost outweighs any subtle impact on your ability to perceive others emotions.”