The Paul Ekman Group is now offering FACS.
The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is a tool for measuring facial expressions. It is an anatomical system for describing all observable facial movement. It breaks down facial expressions into individual components of muscle movement. It was first published in 1978 by Ekman and Friesen, and has since undergone revision.
The FACS manual is a comprehensive description of facial behavior. FACS labels each observable component of facial movement as an Action Unit or AU. The FACS manual describes the criteria for observing and coding each AU. It also describes how AUs appear in combinations.
The FACS manual is self-instructional. The user reads the manual and practices coding various pictures and videos. After completing the manual the user takes a final test for certification. This self-instruction usually takes about 50 to 100 hours to complete.
If a user studies FACS five days a week for two hours a day, then learning will be closer to 50 than 100 hours. Dr. Ekman recommends training in groups. This can help make the high volume of information easier to learn.
FACS is used across many different personal and professional settings. It is often used in various scientific settings for research. It is also used by animators and computer scientists interested in facial recognition. Using FACS may also enable greater awareness and sensitivity to subtle facial behaviors. Such skills are useful for psychotherapists, interviewers, and anyone working in communications.
We endorse Erika Rosenberg who teaches a five-day FACS workshop which takes students through the entire manual and prepares them for certification.