Face It! - Dr. Ekman's Blog

Respectful Disagreements

November 29, 2016 I suspect that some of us encountered disagreements about the president-elect, the state of the country, the world, and what to do about any or all of it during our holiday gatherings. How can we best deal with disagreements when they are about matters we care about? When such a disagreement becomes apparent […]

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Despair and Exaltation: Our Country Divided

November 9, 2016 We all know the election was very close. Hillary Clinton had slightly more of the popular vote, but Donald Trump had the edge in the electoral vote, thereby winning the election for the Presidency. In a sense, then, both candidates’ supporters have something to celebrate. The losers in the electoral vote, those […]

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“Nonverbal Messages: Cracking the Code”

Nonverbal Messages: Cracking the Code Excerpt taken from Introduction (pp. ix – xiv) November 1, 2016 “What motivated me to spend fifty years investigating facial expressions, gestures, emotion and lies? Why these topics, which had been abandoned as fruitless by the academic establishment?… In much of my life I have been a bit oppositional, some […]

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The President’s Personality

October 11, 2016 You don’t need my expertise in evaluating personality from demeanor to have been struck by the night and day differences between Donald J. Trump and Hillary R. Clinton in their recent debates. Does either one of them have the traits most desirable in a president? To help make that judgment here is […]

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Constructive Anger

September 22, 2016 The following excerpt about constructive anger is taken from the book of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and myself, entitled Emotional Awareness (2009). Having just reread it, I found nothing to change; I still believe it raises the right question, makes a useful suggestion and offers a practice to learn it. It […]

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Emblematic Slips

September 7, 2016 I don’t use the term gesture because it is too imprecise. Instead, I distinguish three very different ways in which movements (usually of the hands, but sometimes of the head or shoulders) provide information. Illustrators is a term I coined for those movements that occur during speech as it is spoken: tracing […]

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Should We Want a President Who Can’t or Won’t Lie?

August 25, 2016 Would it be desirable to have a president who always told the truth; who played with his cards face up? Would that serve the national interest? Only if all those the president dealt with, domestically and internationally, did the same, and they won’t. Otherwise our president would be at a marked disadvantage. […]

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Should We Torture Suspected Terrorists?

July 26, 2016 The Republican candidate for the presidency has recommended torturing terrorist suspects. While former Vice President Dick Cheney was known to advocate the use of torture in some circumstances, many thought torture had been abandoned by President Obama. The president chose not to condemn those who in the past may have used torture, […]

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Eve Ekman on Cultivating Emotional Balance

June 23, 2016 Our emotional responses shape our experience of the world. Emotions can feel profoundly enriching, as when we feel pride from great success or the elation of new love. They can also feel painfully unbearable, as with profound grief or embarrassment. Sometimes we may want to hold on to emotions forever, and other […]

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Our Emotional Reactions to Terrorism

June 22, 2016 Most of us have no trouble recognizing what emotion we feel unless for some reason we don’t think that we should be feeling that emotion. But the tragic events in Paris, San Bernardino and now Orlando are likely to have had a complex emotional impact, which might be confusing if not untangled. […]

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Why I Don’t Call the Dalai Lama “Your Holiness”

May 25, 2016 As many of you are already aware, Eve Ekman and I just recently released the Atlas of Emotions, a visual exploration of the human range of emotions. It was the Dalai Lama who asked me to make a map of emotions so people could navigate to a calm state of mind. This led […]

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Paul Ekman on The Takeaway

Listen to Paul Ekman on The Takeaway, a national public radio show, co-produced by WNYC, PRI, New York Times, & WGBH Friday May 20, 2016: What is the Atlas of Emotions and why did the Dalai Lama ask Dr. Paul Ekman to create it? The Atlas of Emotions entails making us aware of the complexity […]

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How I Became Friends with the Dalai Lama

May 16, 2016 Like most other important events in my life, meeting the Dalai Lama was not a deliberate choice, but an accident. I avoided anything about him, regarding the interest in the Dalai Lama as just another bay area cult like Synanon. But when my then 15-year-old daughter Eve came back from trekking in […]

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Introducing the Atlas of Emotions

May 10, 2016 I am pleased to announce the launch of our newest project, the Atlas of Emotions: www.atlasofemotions.com. The Atlas was featured on Saturday in the New York Times. The Dalai Lama said that we needed a map to get to the new world and asked whether I could create a map of the […]

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Atlas of Emotions Press Release

May 9, 2016 Backed by funding from the Dalai Lama, Dr. Paul Ekman and Dr. Eve Ekman announce the launch of the Atlas of Emotions www.atlasofemotions.com San Francisco, California – Dr. Paul Ekman and his daughter, Dr. Eve Ekman, have built the world’s first interactive mapping of how emotions influence our lives, titled the Atlas of […]

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Atlas of Emotions in the New York Times

May 6, 2016 As featured in The New York Times (Inner Peace? The Dalai Lama Made a Website for That) ROCHESTER, Minn. — The Dalai Lama, who tirelessly preaches inner peace while chiding people for their selfish, materialistic ways, has commissioned scientists for a lofty mission: to help turn secular audiences into more self-aware, compassionate humans. […]

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What Scientists Who Study Emotion Agree About

April 12, 2016 Originally published in the Perspectives on Psychological Science What Scientists Who Study Emotion Agree About Paul Ekman University of California, San Francisco and Paul Ekman Group, LLC Abstract In recent years, the field of emotion has grown enormously—recently, nearly 250 scientists were identified who are studying emotion. In this article, I report […]

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Trusting Can Be Dangerous

December 8, 2015 I have spent a lot of time in the last thirty years advising police, both regional and national, on how to evaluate truthfulness. You can see some of the training tools we used here. Police make mistakes, not just with Black people, although implicit or explicit racism causes a higher rate of mistaken […]

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Is Love an Emotion?

November 11, 2015 Is love an emotion? Let’s put aside loving your job or a piece of clothing in which the use of the word “love” is as a superlative. That still leaves romantic love and parental love: Are either of these emotions? I think not and here’s why-the time frame for emotions and love […]

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Ineffectively Testing the Effectiveness of TSA

November 11, 2015 TSA personnel in the SPOT program (Screening Passengers with Observational Techniques) have come under repeated, unjustified criticism. Their failure to catch people pretending to be bad guys is totally irrelevant to whether they will actually catch the real bad guys. Lets get back to the real world.  Money smugglers, weapons smugglers, and […]

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5 Signs of Lying That Aren’t as Foolproof as You’d Think

November 2, 2015 As seen on Yahoo Health by Temma Ehrenfeld Think you can spot a liar? Think again.  Too bad every liar isn’t Pinocchio, with a tell-all nose. But do our faces give lying away in more subtle ways? The answer is often yes — though the science of exactly how is surprisingly complex. […]

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Dr. Paul Ekman on Torture

August 17, 2015 As seen in the Huffington Post I was approached soon after 9/11 by a senior psychologist, who held office in APA, to participate in the government’s newly developing interrogation program. I declined, although I had already developed techniques for establishing better emotional connections with interviewees, through my work on nonverbal behavior, facial […]

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Paul Ekman Alumni Awards

July 20, 2015 This summer, Dr. Paul Ekman received two awards from two universities dear to his heart: UCSF’s 150th Anniversary Alumni Excellence Award and University of Chicago’s Professional Achievement Award Below are photos from both ceremonies.

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The Science of ‘Inside Out’

July 3, 2015 As seen on the New York Times FIVE years ago, the writer and director Pete Docter of Pixar reached out to us to talk over an idea for a film, one that would portray how emotions work inside a person’s head and at the same time shape a person’s outer life with […]

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A Force for Good

June 22, 2015 A note from Dan Goleman: As I was interviewing the Dalai Lama for my book A FORCE FOR GOOD: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World, Paul Ekman’s work came up repeatedly. The Dalai Lama places great importance, for one, on Paul’s mapping the emotions – a tool that can help people […]

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8 Myths about Lying

June 8, 2015 by Paul Ekman, Ph.D. as featured on Forbes. Myth #1 – Everyone lies. Not so. Not about serious matters, not about lies which if caught could result in the end of a relationship, employment, freedom, large sums of money or life itself. Those are what I call high stake lies; they are […]

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Investigating Terrorism: Current Political, Legal and Psychological Issues

John Pearse, Ph.D Vice President of Paul Ekman Group January 20, 2015 Unfortunately terrorism is all around us as recent global events continue to demonstrate.  Across America, throughout Europe and around the world people took to the streets to peacefully protest against the terrorist atrocities that had left 17 dead in Paris, France last week. […]

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#PictureCompassion: What Compassion Looks Like to You!

September 9, 2014 We’ve asked our community to join in on our movement for Global Compassion by participating in our #PictureCompassion campaign. After looking through many inspiring photos, we’ve selected our top 5 favorites!                   A Note from Dr. Paul Ekman:  As our submitted photos show, compassion is the desire to help someone who […]

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Catching Liars

August 2014 From a distance of twenty feet, without your knowledge or consent, the surveillance cameras, microphones and physiological sensors apply computer algorithms to process your gait, facial expression, gestures, voice, posture, heart rate, blood pressure and skin temperature — determining within seconds if you are lying or telling the truth. “Diogenes,” the lie catching […]

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#AskEkman: How do I become a facial expression expert?

July 2014 The most popular questions we receive at the Paul Ekman Group are questions relating to which courses and universities are best equipped to promote a career in becoming an expert in facial expressions and emotion. The answer to this question depends on what level of education you are seeking, and what topic interests […]

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Is Snowden Lying?

June 2014 Many readers have asked whether Snowden was lying in his recent NBC-TV interview, knowing I have worked for the government and corporations spotting lies by how someone behaves. When I attempt to evaluate truthfulness I need to be the one asking the questions, able to ask follow up questions, allowed as many hours […]

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Who Should Know How You Are Feeling?

May 2014 Where you go on the Internet, where you travel on city streets, that and more is all up for grabs Google? NSA? Walmart? It soon may be possible for them to track your emotions in addition to your whereabouts without your knowledge or consent. No regulations from the government to prevent massive surveillance […]

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Global Compassion and the Nigerian Schoolgirls

May 2014 Why do we care when we see the Nigerian schoolgirls who are the prisoners of Boko Haram? We DO watch. Most of us don’t change channels. Why? There is nothing which ordinarily might catch our eyes: no one is badly injured, or beautifully dressed, or posing in a sexy way. And no one […]

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Spotting Poker Bluffs

May 2014 The game has changed now that TV broadcasts people playing poker. In the old days not a word was spoken, and that tradition continues today in some venues. But lies had to be spotted; bluffs called. I learned about this from winners of the International Poker Tournament held each year in Las Vegas. […]

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Welcome to our new Website!

April 2014 I’m Paul Ekman. Welcome to the first post of my blog on our new website!  This past year has been exciting as we’ve improved our training products and created new ways for you to connect with us. Our training tools have been expanded and refined, and our most popular modules (Micro Expressions and Subtle […]

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Darwin’s Claim of Universals in Facial Expression Not Challenged

March 2014   Paul Ekman, Emeritus Professor, University of California, San Francisco Dacher Keltner, Professor, University of California, Berkeley   Lisa Feldman-Barrett’s recent contribution (New York Times, February 28, 2014) seeks to undermine the science showing universality in the interpretation of facial expressions. In her eyes, recent evidence “challenges[ing] the theory, attributed to Charles Darwin, […]

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Duping Delight

Written December, 2009 The Navy warrant officer John Anthony Walker, Jr. was convicted as a spy for the Soviet Union in 1987, and is serving a life sentence. The New York Times said he had been the most damaging spy in history, having helped the Soviets decipher over 200,000 encrypted naval messages. It wasn’t the […]

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The Neglected Clue: Mini’s

Written November, 2009 It was the last day of the Irangate Congressional hearings. Lt. Colonel Oliver North, impressively uniformed, very much in command of the situation, listened attentively as Congressman Lee Hamilton praised North’s many years of dedicated service to the country. Then without warning Hamilton said “but you almost brought a President down”. North […]

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Why Lies Fail – Part 2

Written October, 2009 I asked people “If you could be absolutely certain that your lover would never find out, would you have a one-night stand with a very attractive person?” About half said “no”. They didn’t differ from those who said “yes” (that they would cheat) in whether they were married or single, if married, […]

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Why Lies Fail – Part 1

Written September, 2009 Not all do. “Can’t talk now, just on the way out the door”. “I love your new dress.” “What a great evening, thanks so much.” “Sorry, couldn’t get a babysitter.” Such lies of every day life usually go undetected because the target wants to be misled. It would be rude if the […]

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Why People Lie

Written March, 2009 “I thought I was only going 55 miles an hour officer” claims the driver speeding at 70 mph. “My wristwatch stopped so I had no idea that I got home 2 hours after my curfew”, says the teenager. Avoiding punishment is the most frequent reason people tell serious lies, regardless of their […]

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Is Lying Ever Justifiable?

Written February, 2009 The terrorist who lies to get on board an airplane believes his lie is justifiable. He doesn’t share values with those to whom he lies, in fact he despises them. The undercover vice squad officer, drug enforcement agent, or counter-intelligence agent, are living lies. They believe their lies are righteous, as does […]

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