Super-Weird Study: Is Botox Hurting Your Relationship?

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Woman receiving botox
New research shows that if a person can't move her face to empathize, her relationship may suffer.
Let's be honest: Botox has become borderline mainstream. Women (and men) from all walks of life have taken the poisonous plunge in the war against wrinkles. But does this beauty treatment have a side effect worth a few worry lines?

New research shows getting Botox injections means you may not be able to empathize as well as you used to. And if you can't put yourself into your partner's shoes, rocky-relationship territory could be ahead. We're In Rocky Waters: How To Fix?

According to the New York Times, a new study performed by professors David T. Neal and Tanya L. Chartrand showed that people who receive Botox injections are not able to mimic the emotions of others. They actually, physically, are not able. And since they can't copy the emotional responses of the people they interact with, they can't empathize, and thus have no idea what they're feeling.

 

This new study stemmed from 1980s research that proved happily married couples often resembled each other over time, and began to wear the same expressions. The professors asked, "What's going to happen now that there's Botox?" Will these couples still be able to empathize? Will they still be as happy?

The researchers thought the substance might affect "embodied cognition," the way our faces respond when we interact with another person. Generally, they mirror what we see. If a person is visibly upset, our faces will mimic a frown. The copycat behavior sends a signal from our faces to our brains, where we can begin to empathize with another's emotions. 10 Reasons Why Empathy is Enriching for Couples

After a little testing, the researchers were dead-on with their prediction. Botox messes with a person's abilities to perceive others' feelings.

Neal and Chartrand tested women who were given Botox against a control group of women who were given Restylane (a substance that doesn't affect facial movement). They showed them photos of human eyes and asked them to match those peepers with human emotions. As it turned out, the women with Botox injections were significantly less perceptive when it came to decoding the expressions. On average, Botox users got two more wrong out of 36 than the Restylane users. Eek!

If you were ever considering Botox, or if you've used it in the past, does this study make you think twice about getting injections?