Ekman's Art

Paul Ekman, the eminent UCSF psychologist, has a new exhibit of his photography on display at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The photographs are primarily of the South Fore people, an isolated group living in the New Guinea highlands. Ekman was studying their facial expressions, trying to figure out if the articulations of human facial muscles were universal, as Darwin had first theorized:

Ekman's team found that the Fore's facial expressions for happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, and disgust were strikingly similar to those found in other cultures. For example, when asked to imitate the expressions associated with meeting an old friend or stumbling upon a decaying animal, they showed the same patterns of eye and mouth muscle movements seen in Westerners under similar circumstances. The fact that the Fore showed these facial "universals" despite little contact with representatives of other cultures (or modern popular media) strongly suggested that Darwin's view of innate expressions was correct.

Ekman has gone on to create a detailed atlas of all of our facial expressions, many of which we have little conscious control over.

i-66c0a821037cc589384a27f8c9ce71b9-LadyChild_300dpi.jpg

Image courtesy of the Exploratorium

More like this

Check this out: A Photographic Exhibition from Pioneering Psychologist Paul Ekman The Search for Universals in Human Emotion Ekman is One of the Most Influential Psychologists of the 20th Century At the Exploratorium January 22-April 27, 2008 The Exploratorium presents a photographic exhibition,…
Photograph courtesy of the Exploratorium  Jonah Lehrer* points out an exhibition of Paul Ekman's photographs at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Ekman is a psychologist at UCSF who has spent time in Papua New Guinea studying the facial expressions of the people there, to try and…
Paul Ekman, the eminent scientist behind micro facial expressions, dissects the unconscious tics of deceit used by A-Rod: Ms. Couric asked Mr. Rodriguez if he had ever been tempted to use illegal drugs. He answered with a simple "No" accompanied by what might be a microfear expression, according to…
Take a look at this photo: What emotion would you say I'm expressing here? Let's make this one a poll (make sure you answer before you read any farther): In 1872, Charles Darwin argued that facial expressions must have evolved just as surely as eyes or noses (you can read an excerpt from his work…

Beautiful photo, very engaging.

By amybuilds (not verified) on 12 Dec 2007 #permalink

I am in the middle of reading "Reveaing Emotions" and find it quite revealing. I also have your book on my christmas list. I am an artist working on my undergraduate degree currently. Neuroscience and psychology are always in the back of my mind. I will be back to read more.