Paul Ekman was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and New York University. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Adelphi University (1958), after a one year internship at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute. After two years as 1st. Lt. and chief psychologist at Ft. Dix, N.J. he returned to Langley Porter/UCSF where he worked from 1960 to 2004. His research on facial expression and body movement began in 1954, as the subject of his Master’s thesis in 1955 and his first publication in 1957. In his early work, his approach was influenced by thinking in semiotics and ethology, and his focus was primarily on gestures. By the mid 1960’s Ekman focused on the face and emotion, initiating a series of cross cultural studies of expression and gesture. In addition to his basic research on emotion and its expression, he has also been studying deceit.
When he retired from the University of California in 2004, after more than thirty years as a full professor, he decided to translate his research findings into training tools, workshops and books that could be of help to the general public. He formed the Paul Ekman Group PEG LLC, wrote his book EMOTIONS REVEALED: Understanding Faces and Feelings to Improve Emotional Life, and developed online interactive training tools, and workshops. Since his earlier book TELLING LIES (first edition1985; 4th edition 2009) was published he was asked by law enforcement groups, both national and regional for help which he provided in both workshops and in online training tools. The Micro Expression Training Tool (METT) in less than an hour enables the user to spot concealed emotions not visible for most people without that training. The Subtle Emotion Training Tool (SETT) in less than an hour enables the user to spot the first sign of when an emotion is beginning. METT and SETT have proven useful not just to law enforcement and national security, but also to therapists, health professionals, salespersons, HR people and negotiators. The TV program LIE TO ME which was based on Ekman brought national publicity to micro expressions and Ekman’s work. He personally conducted workshops with all the three letter agencies in the U.S., the UK, and Israel, and because the demand became greater than he could handle he recruited John Pearse, (who had more than twenty years’ experience in Scotland Yard , plus a Ph.D. in psychology) to be PEG’s vice president for workshop training. Pearse provides the training and oversight for a spin-off company, Paul Ekman International (PEI), which brings Ekman’s workshops on emotional skills and evaluating truthfulness in live workshops to government, corporate, and other organizations.
Ekman has spent most of the last three years developing new training tools all of which will come online in 2013. No longer limited to the face, these new online interactive training tools greatly expand what can be learned, and the audiences who will benefit. RE3 stands for Responding Effectively to Emotional Expressions. It is designed to help people determine what they might be most useful to say once they recognize a concealed emotion. RE3 has three parts — what to say to (a) an adolescent offspring (family); (b) an employee (work); (c) a criminal suspect (law enforcement). Another online interactive training tool is based on Ekman’s last major research project which identified five ways in which individuals differ in how they experience and express emotion, which form their Emotional Profile. The training tool is for best used by a couple to explore their own and each other’s profile in dealing with disagreements. It is called Mapping your Anger Profile.
Awards and Honors
1983 Faculty Research Lecturer, University of California, San Francisco – Highest honor awarded by the academic senate for research achievement
1991 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award – American Psychological Association’s highest award for basic research
1994 Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Chicago
1998 William James Fellow Award, given by the American Psychological Society
2001 Named by the American Psychological Association as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century based on publications, citations and awards
2007 Honorary Degree, University of Fernando Pessoa, Portugal
2008 Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Adelphi University
2008 Honorary Degree, University of Geneva, Switzerland
2009 Named of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine
2011 Honorary Degree, Lund University, Sweden
National and International Recognition
For over forty years Paul Ekman was supported by fellowships, awards, and grants from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Articles reporting on Ekman’s work have appeared in US and foreign versions of Time Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Psychology Today, The New Yorker and many other notable publications.
Ekman has appeared on the TV programs 48 Hours, Dateline, Good Morning America, 20/20, Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, the The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and many other programs.
Ekman is co-author, editor, or solo author of Emotion in the Human Face (1971), Darwin and Facial Expression (1973), Unmasking the Face (1975), Facial Action Coding System (1978), Face of Man (1980), Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behavior Research (1982), Approaches to Emotion (1984), Telling Lies (1985), Why Kids Lie (1989), The Nature of Emotion (1994), What the Face Reveals (1997), Emotions Revealed, (2003), Emotional Awareness (2008). He is the editor of the third edition (1998) of Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.
Ekman has had more than 100 empirical or theoretical articles published in scientific journals or as chapters in books edited by other authors.
Ekman has received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago (1994), Lund University, Adelphi University (2008), University of Geneva, Switzerland (2008).
Ekman was invited by the Royal Society of the United Kingdom to give the opening address in the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth in 2009.