|Born||February 15, 1934 (age 79)
|Doctoral advisor||John Amsden Starkweather|
Paul Ekman (born February 15, 1934) is an American psychologist who was a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions, has created an 'atlas of emotions' with more than ten thousand facial expressions, and has gained a reputation as "the best human lie detector in the world".
He was ranked 59th out of the 100 most cited psychologists of the twentieth century. Ekman conducted seminal research on the specific biological correlates of specific emotions, demonstrating the universality and discreteness of emotions in a Darwinian approach. Ekman's most significant discovery is the micro expression, which shows up on our faces for fractions of a second as an indicator of emotion.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Research work
- 3 Contributions to our understanding of emotion
- 4 Criticisms
- 5 Publications
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Ekman was born to Jewish parents in 1934 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, and California. His father was a pediatrician and his mother was an attorney. His sister, Joyce Steingart, is a psychoanalytic psychologist who practices in New York.
Ekman originally wanted to be a psychotherapist, but when he was 14, his mother developed a severe mental illness and it had tragic consequences, so he decided to spend his life helping people like his mother.
At the age of 15, and without graduating from high school, he enrolled at the University of Chicago where he completed three years of undergraduate study. He then studied one year at New York University earning his BA in 1954. During his time in Chicago he was fascinated by group therapy sessions and understanding group dynamics. His classmates at Chicago included Susan Sontag, Mike Nichols, and Elaine May. The subject of his first research project under the direction of his NYU professor, Margaret Tresselt, was group therapy.
Ekman was soon accepted into the Adelphi University graduate program for clinical psychology. While working for his Master's degree, Ekman was awarded a predoctoral research fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1955. His Master's thesis was focused on facial expression and body movement he had begun to study in 1954. Ekman eventually went on to receive his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Adelphi University in 1958, after a one year internship at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute.
Ekman received his first research grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1963 to study nonverbal behaviour. This award would be continuously renewed for the next 40 years and paid his salary until he was offered a professorship at the University of California, San Francisco in 1972. Encouraged by his college friend and teacher Silvan S. Tomkins Ekman wrote his famous book, "Telling Lies" and published it in 1985. He retired in 2004 as professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). From 1960 to 2004 he also worked at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute on a limited basis consulting on various clinical cases.
He was named one of the top Time 100 most influential people in the May 11, 2009 edition of Time magazine. He is currently on the Editorial Board of Greater Good magazine, published by the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California, Berkeley. His contributions include the interpretation of scientific research into the roots of compassion, altruism, and peaceful human relationships.
Measuring nonverbal communication
Ekman's interest in nonverbal communication led to his first publication in 1957, describing how difficult it was to develop ways of empirically measuring nonverbal behaviour. He chose the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, the psychiatry department of the University of California Medical School, for his clinical internship partly because Jurgen Ruesch and Weldon Kees had recently published a book called Nonverbal Communication (1956). 
Ekman then focused on developing techniques for measuring nonverbal communication. He found that facial muscular movements that created facial expressions could be reliably identified through empirical research. He also found that human beings are capable of making over 10,000 facial expressions; only 3,000 relevant to emotion. Psychologist Silvan Tomkins convinced Ekman to extend his studies of nonverbal communication from body movement to the face, helping him design his classic cross-cultural emotion recognition studies. Interestingly enough, Tomkins also supervised Carroll Izard at the same time, fostering a similar interest in emotion through cross-cultural research.
Emotions as universal categories
Charles Darwin theorized that emotions were biologically determined and universal to human culture in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals published in 1872. However, the more popularized belief during the 1950s was that facial expressions and their meanings were culturally determined through behavioural learning processes. This was the belief of some anthropologists including Margaret Mead who had travelled to different countries examining how cultures communicated using nonverbal behaviour.
Through a series of studies, Ekman found a high agreement across members of diverse Western and Eastern literate cultures on selecting emotional labels that fit facial expressions. Expressions he found to be universal included those indicating anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. Findings on contempt are less clear, though there is at least some preliminary evidence that this emotion and its expression are universally recognized. Working with his long-time friend Wallace V. Friesen, Ekman demonstrated that the findings extended to preliterate Fore tribesmen in Papua New Guinea, whose members could not have learned the meaning of expressions from exposure to media depictions of emotion. Ekman and Friesen then demonstrated that certain emotions were exhibited with very specific display rules, culture-specific prescriptions about who can show which emotions to whom and when. These display rules could explain how cultural differences may conceal the universal effect of expression.
In the 1990s, Ekman proposed an expanded list of basic emotions, including a range of positive and negative emotions that are not all encoded in facial muscles. The newly included emotions are: Amusement, Contempt, Contentment, Embarrassment, Excitement, Guilt, Pride in achievement, Relief, Satisfaction, Sensory pleasure, and Shame.
Psychometric tests for studying emotion
Ekman's famous test of emotion recognition was the Pictures of Facial Affect (POFA) stimulus set published in 1976. Consisting of 110 black and white images of Caucasian actors portraying the six universal emotions plus neutral expressions, the POFA has been used to study emotion recognition rates in normal and psychiatric populations around the world. Ekman used these stimuli in his original cross-cultural research. Many researchers favor the POFA because these photographs have been rated by large normative groups in different cultures. In response to critics, however, Ekman eventually released a more culturally-diverse set of stimuli called the Japanese and Caucasian Facial Expressions of Emotion (JACFEE).
By 1978, Ekman and Friesen had finalized and developed the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) to taxonomize every human facial expression. FACS is an anatomically-based system for describing all observable facial movement for every emotion. Each observable component of facial movement is called an action unit or AU and all facial expressions can be decomposed into their constituent core AUs. An update of this tool came in the early 2000s when it was renamed F.A.C.E. (Facial Expression, Awareness, Compassion, Emotions) and redeveloped as a tool to learn about identifying and recognizing facial expressions in the human face.
Other tools have been developed, including the MicroExpressions Training Tool (METT), which can help individuals identify more subtle emotional expressions that occur when people try to suppress their emotions. Application of this tool includes helping people with Asperger's or autism recognize emotional expressions in their everyday interactions. The Subtle Expression Training Tool (SETT) teaches recognition of very small, micro signs of emotion. These are very tiny expressions, sometimes registering in only part of the face, or when the expression is shown across the entire face, but is very small. Subtle expressions occur for many reasons, for example, the emotion experienced may be very slight or the emotion may be just beginning. METT and SETT have been shown to increase accuracy in evaluating truthfulness.
Ekman has contributed to the study of social aspects of lying, why we lie, and why we are often unconcerned with detecting lies. In a research project along with Dr. Maureen O'Sullivan, called the Wizards Project (previously named the Diogenes Project), Ekman reported on facial "microexpressions" which could be used to assist in lie detection. After testing a total of 20,000 people from all walks of life, he found only 50 people who had the ability to spot deception without any formal training. These naturals are also known as "Truth Wizards", or wizards of deception detection from demeanor.
Ekman is also working with Computer Vision researcher Dimitris Metaxas on designing a visual lie-detector. His research on deception inspired the television series, Lie to Me, in which he served as a consultant; this was an excellent opportunity for Ekman to spread his work on microexpressions, while not directly accredited for his work, his work did eventually become part of pop culture to some extent as a result of the show. In one issue of Greater Good Magazine Ekman and his daughter Eve were interviewed on parent-child trust. The main topic of the interview focuses on the benefits of trusting your children, how to encourage trustworthy behavior, and what it takes to build trust between parents and children. On February 27, 2009, he was a guest presenter at the Science of a Meaningful Life seminar "Building Compassion, Creating Well-being", along with University of California, Berkeley and Greater Good Science Center Executive Director Dacher Keltner. Together they covered strategies for building resilience, reducing stress, and strengthening relationships with colleagues, clients, family, and friends.
In his profession, he also uses oral signs of lying. When interviewed about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he mentioned that he could detect that former President Bill Clinton was lying because he used distancing language.
Contributions to our understanding of emotion
In his 1993 seminal paper in the psychology journal American Psychologist, Ekman describes nine direct contributions that his research on facial expression has made to our understanding of emotion. Highlights include:
- Consideration of both nature and nurture: Emotion is now viewed as a physiological phenomenon influenced by our cultural and learning experiences.
- Emotion-specific physiology: Ekman led the way by trying to find discrete psychophysiological differences across emotions. A number of researchers continue to search for emotion-specific autonomic and central nervous system activations. With the advent of neuroimaging techniques, a topic of intense interest revolves around how specific emotions relate to physiological activations in certain brain areas. Ekman laid the groundwork for the future field of affective neuroscience.
- An examination of events that precede emotions: Ekman's finding that voluntarily making one of the universal facial expressions can generate the physiology and some of the subjective experience of emotion provided some difficulty for some of the earlier theoretical conceptualizations of experiencing emotions.
- Considering emotions as families: Ekman & Friesen (1978) found not one expression for each emotion, but a variety of related but visually different expressions. For example, the authors reported 60 variations of the anger expression which share core configurational properties and distinguish themselves clearly from the families of fearful expressions, disgust expressions, and so on. Variations within a family likely reflect the intensity of the emotion, how the emotion is controlled, whether it is simulated or spontaneous, and the specifics of the event that provoked the emotion.
Ekman's work, particularly its applications to airport security via the Transportation Security Administration's "Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques" (SPOT) program, has been criticized for not having been subjected to controlled scientific tests. A 2007 report on SPOT stated that "simply put, people (including professional lie-catchers with extensive experience of assessing veracity) would achieve similar hit rates if they flipped a coin".
The methodology used by Ekman and O'Sullivan in their recent work on Truth wizards has also received criticism on the basis of validation. Other criticisms of Ekman's work are based on experimental and naturalistic studies by several other emotion psychologists who, in the last two decades, did not find evidence in support of discrete emotions and discrete facial expression, thus questioning Ekman's proposed taxonomy.
Ekman argues that while some anthropologists continue to suggest that emotions are not universal, there has been no quantitative data to support the claim that emotions are culture specific. In his 1993 discussion of the topic, Ekman states that there is no instance in which 70% or more of one cultural group select one of the six universal emotions while another culture group labels the same expression as another universal emotion.
- Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion (Times Books, 2008) ISBN 0-8050-8712-5
- Unmasking the Face ISBN 1-883536-36-7
- Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life (Times Books, 2003) ISBN 0-8050-7516-X
- Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage (W. W. Norton & Company, 1985) ISBN 0-393-32188-6
- What the Face Reveals (with Rosenberg, E. L., Oxford University Press, 1998) ISBN 0-19-510446-3
- The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions (with R. Davidson, Oxford University Press, 1994) ISBN 0-19-508944-8
- Darwin and Facial Expression: A Century of Research in Review ISBN 0-12-236750-2
- Facial Action Coding System/Investigator's ISBN 99936-26-61-9
- Why Kids Lie: How Parents Can Encourage Truthfulness (Penguin, 1991) ISBN 0-14-014322-X
- Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behavior Research ISBN 0-521-28072-9
- Face of Man ISBN 0-8240-7130-1
- Emotion in the Human Face ISBN 0-08-016643-1
- Handbook of Cognition and Emotion (Sussex, U.K. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 1999)
- Animal communication
- Body language
- Emotions and Culture
- Emotion classification
- Facial Action Coding System
- Nonverbal communication
- Origin of language
- Origin of speech
- Lie to Me (TV series)
- Wizards Project
- Haggbloom, S. J. et al. (2002). The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century. Review of General Psychology. Vol. 6, No. 2, 139–15. Haggbloom and his team combined 3 quantitative variables: citations in professional journals, citations in textbooks, and nominations in a survey given to members of the Association for Psychological Science, with 3 qualitative variables (converted to quantitative scores): National Academy of Science (NAS) membership, American Psychological Association (APA) President and/or recipient of the APA Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award, and surname used as an eponym. Then the list was rank ordered. Ekman was #59. (A list of the first 25 names, in order, can be found under "Historically important writers" at Template:Psychology.)
- Freitas-Magalhães, A. (2012). Facial expression of emotion. In V. S. Ramachandran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Human Behavior (Vol. 2, pp.173-183). Oxford: Elsevier/Academic Press. ISBN 978-008-088-575-9.
- "Paul Ekman". American Psychologist 47 (4): 470–471. April 1992.
- "'Paul Ekman". American Psychologist 47 (4): 470–471. April 1992.
- Ekman, P., A life's pursuit. In The Semiotic Web '86: An International Yearkbook, Sebeok, T. A.; Umiker-Seboek, J., Eds. Berlin, Mouton De Gruyter, 1987; pp 3-45.
- Eissner, B. Paul Ekman PH.D. '58, '08: East Meets West. http://profiles.adelphi.edu/profile/paul-ekman/ http://www.adelphi.edu/adelphi-magazine/Adelphi-Magazine-Fall-2008.pdf.
- American Psychologist (April 1992),"Paul Ekman" 47 (4), pg. 470-471
- Ekman, P.; Cohen, L.; Moos, R.; Raine, W.; Schlesinger, M.; Stone, G., Divergent Reactions to the Threat of War. Science 1963, 88-94.
- Ekman, P.; Friesen, W. V.; Lutzker, D. R., Psychological Reactions to Infantry Basic Training. Medicine, U. o. C. S. o., Ed. http://www.paulekman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Psychological-Reactions-To-Infantry-Basic-Training.pdf
- The 2009 TIME 100: Paul Ekman, Scientists & Thinkers. Time. April 30, 2009.
- Freitas-Magalhães, A. (2009). The Ekman Code or in Praise of the Science of the Human Face. In A. Freitas-Magalhães (Ed.), Emotional Expression: The Brain and The Face (Vol. 1,pp. ix-xvii). Porto: University Fernando Pessoa Press. ISBN 978-989-643-034-4.
- Ekman, Paul (1957). "A methodological discussion of nonverbal behavior.". Journal of Psychology 43: 141–149.
- Ruesch, J.; Kees, W., Nonverbal Communication: Notes on the Visual Perception of Human Relations. University of California Press, 1956: Berkeley, 1956; p 205.
- "FACS Investigators Guide - Acknowledgements". Retrieved 2 September 2009.
- Matsumoto, David (1992) "More evidence for the universality of a contempt expression". Motivation and Emotion. Springer Netherlands. Volume 16, Number 4 / December, 1992
- Ekman, P.; Friesen, W.V. (1971). "Constants across cultures in the face and emotion.". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 17: 124–129.
- Ekman, Paul (1989). H. Wagner & A Manstead, ed. Handbook of social psychophysiology. Chichester, England: Wiley. pp. 143–164.
- Ekman, Paul (1999), "Basic Emotions", in Dalgleish, T; Power, M, Handbook of Cognition and Emotion, Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
- Ekman, Paul (1999), "Basic Emotions", in Dalgleish, T; Power, M, Handbook of Cognition and Emotion, Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
- Ekman, P.; Matsumoto, D. Japanese and Caucasian facial expressions of emotion and neutral faces.
- Ekman, Paul. "FACS vs. F.A.C.E.".
- Book: Why Kids Lie: How Parents Can Encourage Truthfulness
- Ekman, P., 1996: Why don't we catch liars
- Camilleri, J., "Truth Wizard knows when you've been lying", Chicago Sun-Times, January 21, 2009
- "NPR: The Face Never Lies".
- "Meet the New Interrogators: Lockheed Martin" by Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch report, November 4th, 2005.
- "The lie detective: San Francisco psychologist has made a science of reading facial expressions" by Julian Guthrie, San Francisco Chronicle, Monday, September 16, 2002.
- Ekman, Paul (1993). "Facial Expression and Emotion". American Psychologist 48 (4): 384–392.
- Hontz, C. R., Hartwig, M., Kleinman, S. M. & Meissner, C. A. Credibility Assessment at Portals, Portals Committee Report (2009).
- Bond, Charles F & Uysal, Ahmet. (2007). On lie detection "wizards". Law and human behavior, 31.
- Russel and Fernandez-Dols (1997). The Psychology of Facial Expression . Cambridge University Press.
- Lutz, C.; White, G.M. (1986). "The anthropology of emotions.". Annual Review of Anthropology 15: 405–436.
- Ekman, Paul (1993). "Facial Expression and Emotion". American Psychologist 48 (4): 376–379.
- Official site
- Complete bibliography
- A biography from Lifeboat Foundation site
- Video of Freitas-Magalhaes´s 2008 Ceremony of Doctorate Honoris Causa to Paul Ekman, "The Ekman Code or the Eulogy to the Human Face"
- Article: The Naked Face
- Interview (History Channel transcript)
- Interview (Financial Times)
- Greater Good Magazine: Interview between Ekman and daughter Eve on parent-child trust
- Recording of a conversation with Daniel Goleman
- Detecting Deception, American Psychological Association