Facial Action Coding System
FACS is a research tool useful for measuring any facial expression a human being can make. It is an anatomically based system for comprehensively describing all observable facial movement.
Each observable component of facial movement is called an Action Unit or AU. All facial expressions can be broken down into their constituent AUs. The FACS manual describes the criteria for observing and coding each AU and describes how AUs appear in combinations. The revised CD-based manual is a comprehensive description of facial behavior in terms of AUs and their combinations.
Since its first publication in 1978 by Ekman & Friesen, the FACS manual has been designed to be self-instructional. That is, people read the manual, do practice coding with video images, and eventually take a final test for certification. Typically, this self-instruction takes 50 to 100 hours. If effort is put into learning FACS five days a week for two hours a day, then learning will be closer to 50 than 100 hours. Dr Ekman has always recommended training in groups, and researchers who have trained with him often encourage their students to learn in groups. As the manual is long, many people benefit from interaction with others in learning the material.
The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) Manual is a detailed, technical guide that explains how to categorize facial behaviors based on the muscles that produce them, i.e., how muscular action is related to facial appearances. It illustrates appearance changes of the face using written descriptions, still images, and digital video examples. Behavioral scientists, CG animators, computer scientists interested in pattern recognition programs, and other technicians and scientists use FACS in their professional work when they need to know the exact movements that the face can perform, and what muscles produce them. Working through the exercises of the FACS Manual may also enable greater awareness of and sensitivity to subtle facial behaviors that could be useful for psychotherapists, interviewers, and other practitioners who must penetrate deeply into interpersonal communications.
We do not currently administer FACS. However, click here to purchase the revised, 2002 edition.
We endorse Erika Rosenberg who teaches a five-day FACS workshop which takes students through the entire manual and prepares them for certification. We are working with our partner PEI to provide additional learning and practice materials.