Advisory Board

Dr. Paul Ekman

The New York Times article The 43 Facial Muscles That Reveal said

Dr. Paul Ekman, the professor of psychology who has become the world’s most famous face reader, is much in demand these days.
 
The Dalai Lama and Dr. Ekman, who have met twice, found such synergy in their understanding of human emotions that the Dalai Lama gave Dr. Ekman $50,000 in seed money to learn how to improve emotional balance in schoolteachers and other people in high pressure jobs.
 
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and state and local police forces have turned to Dr. Ekman for help learning to read subtle emotional cues from the faces, voices and body language of potential assassins, terrorists and questionable visa applicants.

Dr. Paul Ekman, is a pioneer in the study of emotions and facial expressions, and is professor emeritus of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California Medical School (UCSF) where he was active for 32 years. He currently continues to consult on research and training related to emotion and deception.
 
Contrary to the belief of some anthropologists at the time including Margaret Mead, Paul found that at least some facial expressions and their corresponding emotions are not culturally determined, but appear to be universal to human culture and thus presumably biological in origin, as Charles Darwin had once theorized. His finding is now widely accepted by scientists. Expressions he found to be universal included anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise. Findings on contempt are less clear, though there is at least some preliminary evidence for its being universally recognized.
 
Paul reported facial microexpressions that could be used to reliably detect concealed emotions. He also developed the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) to taxonomize every conceivable human facial expression.
 
He received his undergraduate education at the University of Chicago and New York University. He received his Ph.D. from Adelphi University in 1958 after spending a year in clinical internship at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, part of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He served as chief psychologist in the U.S. Army, Fort Dix, New Jersey from 1958–1960. On discharge he returned to UCSF where he held a three year postdoctoral research fellowship. He then initiated his research program supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the DOD, loosely affiliated with UCSF. In 1972 he was appointed Professor of Psychology at UCSF.
 
His interests have focused on two separate but related topics. He originally focused on nonverbal behavior, and by the mid-60s concentrated on the expression and physiology of emotion. His second interest is interpersonal deception.
 
Paul’s many honors have included the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association in 1991, and an honorary doctor of humane letters from the University of Chicago in 1994. He has been designated one of the 100 most important psychologists of the twentieth century by the American Psychological Association.
 
He authored Emotions Revealed : Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life, Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage, Emotions Revealed : Understanding Faces and Feelings, Darwin and Facial Expression: A Century of Research in Review, The face of man: Expressions of universal emotions in a New Guinea village, coauthored Unmasking the Face and Why Kids Lie: How Parents Can Encourage Truthfulness, edited Emotions Inside Out: 130 Years After Darwin’s the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, and coedited What the Face Reveals : Basic and Applied Studies of Spontaneous Expression Using the Facial Action Coding System. Read the full list of his publications! In 2001, he collaborated with John Cleese for the excellent BBC documentary series The Human Face.
 
Watch Paul’s interview conducted by the Institute of International Studies “Conversations with History” series. (Or read the transcript!) Read The New Yorker article The Naked Face, the San Francisco Chronicle article The lie detective S.F psychologist has made a science of reading facial expressions, and the Smithsonian Magazine article Reading Faces. Take the Facial Expressions Test.