Are facial expressions universal or culturally specific?

A look at cultural expressions in public and private

Excerpts taken from Dr. Paul Ekman’s scientific autobiography, Nonverbal Messages: Cracking the Code (pp. 70-74) January 22, 2018 Display Rules As I was preparing to make my second trip to New Guinea, I knew that even if I obtained strong results supporting Darwin’s claim of universals in facial expressions, I would need to explain why so many smart anthropologists such as Margaret …

My Six Discoveries

My Six Discoveries

One scientist. Six discoveries. Fifty-five years in the making.

August 1, 2017 Number 1: Nonverbal behaviors provide accurate information. And it is not obscure; most people can derive at least some of that information with no trouble. It may be surprising now, but the general consensus when I started my research was that judgments based on facial expression and bodily movements were at best a source of stereotypes. Clinicians …

“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 would say rebellious, so I am not surprised that I …

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 a survey of the …

Trusting Can Be Dangerous

December 8, 2015 Misjudging a Peron 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 judgments with …

Ineffectively Testing the Effectiveness of TSA

  The SPOT Program November 11, 2015 Trouble with ineffective testing TSA personnel in the SPOT (Screening Passengers with Observational Techniques) program have come under repeated, unjustified criticism. Their failure to catch people pretending to be bad guys is totally irrelevant to whether they can, or will, be able to catch the real bad guys. To test that, we have …

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

Think you can spot a liar? Think again.

November 2, 2015 As seen on Yahoo Health by Temma Ehrenfeld 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. For many people, lying is stressful — so you might think that that …

The Science of “Inside Out”

July 3, 2015 As seen on the New York Times How Emotions Work 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 other people. …

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 expressions and gestures. And I …

Investigating Terrorism

Current Political, Legal and Psychological Issues John Pearse, Ph.D Scientific Advisor to 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 …

#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 you. To help you on …

Who Should Know How You Are Feeling?

Where you go on the Internet, where you travel on city streets, that and more is all up for grabs.

May 2014 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 are on the horizon. Already companies are selling software that identifies your name just by looking at your face. The New York Times Business section …

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   Challenging Darwin 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, that facial movements …

The Neglected Clue: Mini’s

Hidden Facial Messages November, 2009 Subtle Expressions 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 did …