Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Lies, damn lies: Ekman, Darwin and microexpressions

I mentioned Dr Paul Ekman and his research in a post a few weeks ago. There’s an interview with him in the Guardian today, going into a little more detail on his 40+ years studying microexpressions, which has led to calls from the CIA and FBI and now a US TV show based on his research.
Ekman has successfully demonstrated a proposition first suggested by Charles Darwin: that the ways in which we express anger, disgust, contempt, fear, surprise, happiness and sadness are both innate and universal.

The facial muscles triggered by those seven basic emotions are, he has shown, essentially the same, regardless of language and culture, from the US to Japan, Brazil to Papua New Guinea. What is more, expressions of emotion are involuntary; they are almost impossible to suppress or conceal.
The article divulges a little from there, but remains interesting. Ekman’s research is now a US TV drama series starring Tim Roth!

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