Frequently Asked Questions | Paul Ekman Group

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Paul Ekman Group.


  • How do I purchase micro expressions training tools?

    We have different plans available, including Face Basics, Face Advanced, and Ekman Library. Learn more on the Micro Expressions Training Tools packages and pricing page.

  • What’s the micro expressions training refund policy?

    Paul Ekman Group will honor requests for refunds up to, and not exceeding, 48 hours from date of purchase. Once your refund is processed, your training tools will be deactivated within your account. This policy applies only to online micro expression training modules. We do not issue refunds for any photograph sets, FACS manuals and/or the FACS Test purchases.

  • Can I gift a micro expressions training package to someone else?

    Yes, the online training tools make a great gift! Gift cards are preset to the prices of our training tool packages, so that you can gift a training package to someone via a Digital Gift Card. Simply select the training subscription you wish to gift and the date they’ll receive it.

  • Do you offer free trials for the training tools?

    Unfortunately, we do not offer free training tools or free trials. However, we do have some free quizzes you might be interested in trying before purchasing. They’ll give you a glimpse of the valuable information you can find in our courses!

Paul Ekman

  • What did Paul Ekman discover?

    Paul Ekman discovered that some facial expressions of emotion are universal while many of the apparent differences in facial expressions across cultures were due to context. He also co-discovered micro facial expressions.

  • What is Paul Ekman’s theory?

    Paul Ekman theorized that some basic human emotions (happiness/enjoyment, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, disgust and contempt) are innate and shared by everyone, and that they are accompanied across cultures by universal facial expressions.

  • What has Paul Ekman published?

    Paul Ekman has published nearly 200 articles and 13 books, including:

    • Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage
    • Moving Toward Global Compassion
    • Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life
    • Nonverbal Messages: Cracking the Code: My Life’s Pursuit
    • Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion
    • Emotion in the Human Face: Guidelines for Research and Integration of Findings
    • Darwin and Facial Expressions: A Century of Research in Review
    • What the Face Reveals: Basic and Applied Studies of Spontaneous Expression Using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS)
    • Unmasking the Face: A Guide to Recognizing Emotions from Facial Expressions
    • The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions
    • Why Kids Lie: How Parents Can Encourage Truthfulness
    • Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behavior Research: Studies in Emotion and and Social Interaction
    • The Face of Man: Expressions of Universal Emotions in a New Guinea Village
  • Is Dr. Paul Ekman doing interviews?

    At this time, Dr. Ekman is only accepting interviews with pre-approved media outlets (PDF). If you are affiliated with one of our pre-approved outlets, please send please send an email to custserv@paulekman.com with the following information:

    • Contact name
    • Contact email
    • Interview topic
    • Media outlet
    • Requested interview time and date (if flexible, please provide all availabilities)
    • Anticipated length of interview
    • Method of interview (phone, video conference, in-person)
    • Scheduled print date
  • Is Dr. Paul Ekman accepting event invitations?

    If you would like Dr. Ekman to attend and/or participate in your event, please send an email to custserv@paulekman.com with the following information:

    • Contact name:
    • Contact email:
    • Synopsis of event:
    • Organization/company:
    • Event location:
    • Event time and date (if flexible, please provide all availabilities):
    • Anticipated audience size:
    • Duration of participation:
    • Additional notes:
  • Can I get permission to publish Dr. Ekman’s work?

    All materials under copyright must be approved prior to publishing. If approved, you will receive an invoice with further instructions.

    To request publishing permissions, please send an email to custserv@paulekman.com with the following information:

    • Contact name
    • Contact email
    • Organization
    • Billing information
    • Requested materials
    • Where and how the materials will be used
    • Publication title and authors
    • Print volume
    • First edition or reprint
    • Translation languages (if applicable)
    • Translation services provider (if applicable)
    • For training requests, also include the audience size and duration of training
  • Does Dr. Ekman donate materials for research projects?

    Per Dr. Paul Ekman’s request, select photograph sets are provided free of charge for approved research projects. The criteria for approval are related to the topic of the research project and its relevance to our field.

    For approved research, donated photograph sets will carry a one-time administrative fee for processing. Administrative fees are as follows: $75 fee for photograph sets priced $199, $100 fee for photograph sets priced $299. The “Pictures of Facial Affect” photo set cannot be donated.

    Note that the review and approval process can take up to two weeks, and not all applications are approved.

    To request donations of research materials, please send an email to custserv@paulekman.com with the following information:

    • Contact name
    • Contact email
    • Institution
    • Researcher position/year
    • Supervisor for this project
    • Supervisor email
    • Research title
    • Abstract
    • Photograph sets(s) requested

Micro Expression Training Tools

  • What is micro expression training?

    Micro Expression Training is a way to learn how to read micro expressions, which are facial expressions that occur within a fraction of a second. Micro expressions expose a person’s true emotions, so training helps people increase their emotional awareness as well as detect when someone is lying.

  • How are the training tools formatted?

    Our training tools are exclusively online and, therefore, there is nothing to download or to be shipped.

    All seven tools are web-based applications using a combination of text, photos, videos, and auditory commentary for optimal learning – now in multiple languages! While the format of each tool is a little different, each one generally follows a series of learning, practice, and test sections to measure your accuracy and improvement over time.

  • How long do the tools last? Can I use the training tools more than once?

    Beginning the day you purchase your training tools package, you may access and begin your training. During that time, you are granted unlimited use of the tools in that package. You can (and we suggest you do) use your tools frequently for additional practice. Subscription lengths vary across packages, so please review our Compare Features chart for more information. 

    Thirty days before your tools are set to expire, you will receive an email from us asking if you would like to renew your tools at half price.

  • What languages are the training tools available in?

    All of our tools feature English, Spanish, and Portuguese caption capabilities. All users will be prompted at the beginning of each new training session to choose their preferred language.

    We are excited to make these universally-relevant tools more accessible, one language at a time! Stay tuned for more translation options coming soon.

  • Do you provide CEUs or certificates for completing the trainings?

    At this time, we do not provide CEUs (Continuing Education Units) for our online training courses or in-person workshops. We do, however, offer individual certificates for each online training tool successfully completed as well as at the end of all in-person workshop courses.

    Our Micro Expressions and Subtle Expressions Training Tools certificates are score-based and granted with scores of 80% or higher. Our Responding Effectively certificates are completion-based and granted once you have completed each emotional scenario and response option.

  • Can I share my micro expressions training account with others?

    No. As part of our Terms and Conditions, training tools are licensed for individual use ONLY. However, we agree that learning together can be more beneficial (and fun) when practiced with another person. Use our Refer-A-Friend program to help you and your friends save money on your training subscriptions! After purchasing a training package, you’ll find your unique referral link under “My Account” which you can share with friends to both give $40 and get $40 towards a next purchase.

  • What’s the difference between the micro expressions training tools and FACS?

    The online training tools are designed to teach you the everyday skills of reading and responding to micro expressions, whereas the FACS manual is a much more technical guide often used by researchers, animators, and in other various professional settings. Therefore, for anyone interested in learning about micro expressions, we generally recommend starting with the training tools.

    The online training tools are interactive modules, which help you learn to detect micro expressions and respond to emotional expressions. There are a total of seven training tools which are combined into three different packages. The format of each tool is a little different, but generally follows a series of learning, practice, and test sections to measure your accuracy and improvement over time.

    The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is a downloadable PDF manual. It is a comprehensive, anatomically based system for describing all visually discernible facial movement, which breaks down facial expressions into individual components of muscle movement. It takes at least 100 hours of self-study to learn, and it has been used extensively in a wide variety of medical, psychological research, and commercial contexts. You can learn FACS the traditional, self-guided way, or through a workshop.

  • How can I pay for micro expressions training or FACS?

    For our online training tools and FACS, we accept payments via Stripe or credit card.

Lie to Me

  • What was Dr. Ekman’s role in the Fox TV show ‘Lie to Me’? What did he think about the show?

    Dr. Paul Ekman was the Scientific Consultant for ‘Lie to Me’. Because the show was expressly created for entertainment purposes, it is important to Dr. Ekman that people understand the difference between fact and fiction.

  • How real is the science in Lie to Me?

    The science featured in Lie to Me is based on deception detection, which influenced the Lie to Me series. Dr. Ekman taught the cast and crew about the science of deception detection. For more details, you can read about the science of Lie to Me.

  • Is there a lie detector career like Cal Lightman on Lie to Me?

    There is no actual lie detection career. However, you can learn detection skills by training with our Micro Expressions Training Tools. Once you have acquired these skills, they can be used in many different careers. For example:

    • Many law and security enforcement professionals benefit from these skills.
    • Teachers use the skills to better understand their students.
    • Doctors and other medical professionals may need to know that their patients are telling them the truth, so that they are able to diagnose them quickly and safely.
    • Sales personnel find these skills useful in gaining sensitivity to clients’ needs.
    • Managers are able to better understand their employees.

Inside Out

  • How was Paul Ekman involved in Disney-Pixar’s film, Inside Out?

    Dr. Ekman served as a scientific consultant, helping establish the film’s main characters (Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Happiness, and Fear) and their traits. You can read more about his influence on this acclaimed film in the article, “The Science of Inside Out.”

  • What is the “Parent’s Guide” to Inside Out?

    Dr. Ekman created this Parents’ Guide to Inside Out to spur conversation about how we feel, as we each can experience emotions differently. This parents’ guide also has a few tips that may help parents and children better understand themselves.


  • What is FACS?

    The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is a comprehensive, anatomically based system for describing all visually discernible facial movement. It breaks down facial expressions into individual components of muscle movement, called Action Units (AUs).

  • How did the research for FACS begin?

    You can read about the development of FACS in the FACS Investigator’s Guide (which comes with the manual). Also, the history of facial measurement is discussed in the book edited by Ekman & Rosenberg, What the Face Reveals: Basic and Applied Studies of Spontaneous Facial Expression using FACS (2e). There are also accounts in many other published academic articles.

  • How were Action Units (AUs) discovered?

    Action units are discussed in the Investigator’s Guide, available for purchase on the FACS page. The anatomist Hjorstjo (1970) did important groundwork in identifying the units of action based on facial muscle groups on which Ekman and Friesen built in developing FACS as a measurement system.

  • Where can I find the original Ekman and Friesen 1978 FACS article?

    The original version of FACS was published in 1978. It was a manual, not an article, made available for training like the current FACS manual. The original version is out of print, and techniques have been modified since then. The 2002 manual is the current version, and it is the only one that should be used for scoring today.

  • Where can I find a list of FACS experts?

    Right now, there is no central place where FACS coders advertise and are accessible. Also, there is considerable variability in experience among FACS coders. If you are interested in hiring someone, first make sure they are FACS certified (i.e., have passed the FACS final test). 

    You would also want to be sure they have had coding experience beyond testing. The final test simply tells us that someone is proficient in recognizing the AUs, but reliably coding real-life data takes practice.

  • What is EMFACS, and how can I obtain it?

    EMFACS (Emotion FACS) is a selective application of FACS scoring, in which the coder only scores behavior that is likely to have emotional significance. To do this, the coder scans the video for core combinations of events that have been found to suggest certain emotions.

    The coder only codes the events in a video record that contains such core combinations — they use FACS coding to score those events, but they are not coding everything on the video. So EMFACS is FACS selectively applied. EMFACS saves time as one is not coding everything. The drawback is that it can be harder to get intercoder agreement on EMFACS coding as the coders have to agree on two things: 1) whether to code an event (a result of their online scanning of the video for the core combinations) and 2) how to code those events that they have chosen to code. Bear in mind, EMFACS coding still yields FACS codes, so the data have to be interpreted into emotion categories.

    EMFACS is only a set of instructions on how to selectively FACS code in this way. The EMFACS instructions are only available to people who have passed the FACS final test. The reason is that we have to make sure people have mastery of FACS before applying rules to use FACS selectively in this way. This is based on the wishes of the authors of EMFACS, Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen, and it makes good sense. Only people who know FACS as a comprehensive system can correctly apply it on a selective basis. If you take the final test and pass, you can receive the document.

Dalai Lama Relationship

  • How does Dr. Ekman know the Dalai Lama?

    Dr. Paul Ekman has had the honor of developing a unique friendship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet (known as “the Dalai Lama”). Through this friendship, the two have collaborated on several projects that have joined eastern traditions with western science, including the online interactive tool Atlas of Emotions and books and webisodes on emotional awareness and global compassion.

  • What did Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama work on together?

    Dr. Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama have worked on several projects together, including the Atlas of Emotions interactive emotions tool. The two have also completed a series of webisodes on developing global compassion, as well as a book on the same subject.

Cultivating Emotional Balance

  • What is Cultivating Emotional Balance?

    ​​Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB) is a training program which integrates wisdom traditions, contemplative sciences, modern psychology, and scientific emotion research into a secular platform for human transformation.

  • Who created Cultivating Emotional Balance courses?

    Dr. Paul Ekman, Dr. Alan Wallace, Dr. Mark Greenberg, Dr. Richard Davidson, and Dr. Eve Ekman were all involved in the early discussions of this training. From these discussions, the CEB training was created. Today, CEB is carried out by Dr. Eve Ekman, Paul Ekman’s daughter; Ryan Redman, a long-time student of Dr. Alan Wallace; with the support of Lani Potts and Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi.

Atlas of Emotions

  • What is the Atlas of Emotions?

    The Atlas of Emotions is an interactive tool that builds your vocabulary of emotions and illuminates your emotional world. The goal of the Atlas of Emotions is to help us be aware of our emotions in order to attain peace and happiness.

  • Who created the Atlas of Emotions?

    At the request of the Dalai Lama, Dr. Paul Ekman took on the creation of the Atlas alongside his daughter, Dr. Eve Ekman, a next-generation emotion researcher and trainer. The Atlas represents what researchers have learned from the psychological study of emotion and incorporates everyday applications for heightened emotional awareness.