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Pulling this expression can boost performance by 20%

Which expression do you think boosts performance? Images: Getty

Rodin’s statue, ‘The Thinker’, features a seated man, leaning over with a furrowed brow, chin resting on his hand. 

And according to new research, mimicking this famous statue’s facial impression could also help you think and perform better.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville research, released in November, found that putting on a serious “game face” can have major performance benefits. 

In the study, participants were given two tasks: to submerge their dominant hand in a container filled with icy water for up to five minutes, and to complete as much of a 100-piece black-and-white mandala puzzle as possible within five minutes.

"The Thinker" by French sculptor Auguste Rodin is displayed at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, 21 December 2007. Image: Getty

One group of participants were told to complete the tasks while pulling a game face modelled by professional athletes and public figures, and the other wasn’t. 

The game face didn’t make any difference on the performance of participants tasked with the ice water challenge, although the researchers noted that even the group not given expressions to mimic ultimately pulled their own spontaneous game faces. 

But in the puzzle challenges, the “game face” group performed, on average, 20 per cent better than the control, suggesting facial expressions can impact performance and mood. 

"If making a game face has the potential to improve performance, we may find this concept can have application outside of the traditional venue of sports," Matthew Richesin, master's student and lead author of the study said.

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