An early pilot of the Many Smiles study indicated that the hypothesis might not be on its last legs just yet: The results suggested that smiling can affect feelings of happiness. Later this year, all the collaborators will kick into gear to see if the pilot’s findings can be repeated across 21 labs in 19 countries. If they find the same results, will that be enough to convince even the skeptics that it’s not just a fluke?
Well … maybe. A study like Wagenmakers’s sounds, in principle, like enough to lay a scientific question to rest, but it wasn’t. A study like Coles’s sounds like it could be definitive too, but it probably won’t be. Even Big Science can’t make science simple. “I’m still a little unsure, even though I’ve now replicated the effects successfully in my own labs,” said Coles. “I’ll hold my breath until the full data set comes in.”