The Most Important Thing We All Have in Common
Emotion tells us what matters.
Paul Ekman is the Manager of the Paul Ekman Group, LLC (PEG), a small company that produces training devices relevant to emotional skills, and is initiating new research relevant to national security and law enforcement.
His research on facial expression and body movement began in 1954, as the subject of his Master’s thesis in 1955 and his first publication in 1957. In his early work, his approach to nonverbal behavior showed his training in personality. Over the next decade, a social psychological and cross-cultural emphasis characterized his work, with a growing interest in an evolutionary and semiotic frame of reference. In addition to his basic research on emotion and its expression, he has, for the last thirty years, also been studying deceit.
In 1971, he received a Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health; that Award has been renewed in 1976, 1981, 1987, 1991, and 1997. His research was supported by fellowships, grants and awards from the National Institute of Mental Health for over forty years.
Articles reporting on Dr. Ekman’s work have appeared in Time Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Psychology Today, The New Yorker and others, both American and foreign. Numerous articles about his work have also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post and other national newspapers.
He has appeared on 48 Hours, Dateline, Good Morning America, 20/20, Larry King, Oprah, Johnny Carson and many other TV programs. He has also been featured on various public television programs such as News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and Bill Moyers’ The Truth About Lying.
Ekman is co-author of Emotion in the Human Face (1971), Unmasking the Face (1975), Facial Action Coding System (1978), editor of Darwin and Facial Expression (1973), co-editor of Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behavior Research (1982), Approaches to Emotion (1984), The Nature of Emotion (1994), What the Face Reveals (1997), and author of Face of Man (1980), Telling Lies (1985, paperback, 1986, second edition, 1992, third edition, 2001, 4th edition 2008), Why Kids Lie (1989, paperback 1991), Emotions Revealed, (2003), New Edition (2009) Telling Lies, Dalai Lama-Emotional Awareness (2008) and New Edition Emotions Revealed (2007) . He is the editor of the third edition (1998) and the fourth edition (2009) of Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1998). He has published more than 100 articles.
Darwin wrote a book called The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in 1872. I just did a third edition of that book, published by Oxford Press in the United States in which I inserted over a hundred commentaries by myself and other scientists about what Darwin had to say. Was he right or wrong?
Over 90 percent of them said at the time he didn’t have the evidence, but he was right. He knew and understood expression. Darwin says expression showed the basic humanity and it showed the basic unity of all human beings, that we all share the same emotions and the same expressions. That’s what links us together. That was very important to him, to counter the racists of his times who were claiming in the 19th century that Caucasians had descended from a more advanced progenitor than Africans.
This demolished that. So it does show one of the most important things about us we all have. It’s not that the guy you’re dating, he never feels any of the emotions you have. Now, he may have different attitudes about those emotions. He may try to conceal them. But the very same sets are enormously important and in any transaction that matters whether it’s between lovers, between parent and child, between salesman and client, between doctor and patient, between suspect and interrogator, between adversaries at an election, emotion is what we’re looking for, emotion tells us what matters.
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