Ekman

In my previous post entitled Lie to Me, I briefly discussed the show Lie to Me with Tim Roth. I have discovered that this show is not entirely fictional: There actually is a literal character who is similar to the Cal Lightman character from the show. That is, he co-discovered human micro-expressions and teaches others in the art and science of deception detection. This person is Dr. Paul Ekman.

I have looked at some of Dr. Ekman’s stuff. I have not taken any of his online classes, though. (They are quite pricey.) But I think I understand the science fairly well. What Dr. Ekman discovered was the following:

  • Dr. Ekman categorized and classified all human emotions, which are apparently completely universal.
  • Each human emotion has a corresponding facial expression. We are not taught this set of facial expressions, as humans know them regardless of whether they have had human contact. Thus, we have these expressions from birth. They are instinctive.

The conclusion is inescapable: In the area of emotions, at least, we are running a complex piece of software. We use our visual and auditory senses to observe others. This causes us to experience emotions, which are reflected on our faces. Others respond to those emotions, and so forth.

Each emotion is hardwired to a specific human expression. Thus, we are effectively born with a fairly complex system of communication.

I find this incredibly cool, actually.