HISTORY AND CONTROVERSY

 
 

in the 19th century it was darwin who first argued for the universality of emotions // duchenne at the time was using electric stimulation to mimic emotional expressions and he found over 60 of what he believed were distinct emotions // darwin was like, no no no, and got some subjects to identify the emotion of each of the pictures // turns out there were only a few that subjects unanimously identified // the others pics were just failures

in the late 1950s, paul ekman became the man and the legend of facial expressions //  at first, he was only interested in hands not faces // until he walked himself right into a grant, as people like paul do, to study non-verbal behaviors in isolated cultures // because of a sketchy research-experiment-to-cover-a-counter-insurgency-ploy scandal, there was free money for paul // the guardian of this money that needed to be spent was married to a thai woman and he was feeling curious about the differences in their nonverbal communication

paul thought there was no way darwin could be right about the universality of emotions // the claim that emotions were universal or socially learned was still up for debate // and it was paul's task to settle it once and for all // dominating the world of anthropology was the notion that all socially important things, most especially emotions, are learned 

by his luck, a scientist who was studying a slow virus that was killing off the people of papau new guinea had one hundred thousand feet of film for paul to study // the scientist knew that these cultures would soon disappear // paul watched reel after reel // found no foreign facial expression and cross-checked with another prominent face researcher who determined the emotion even without knowing its context

so then he travelled // he showed the fore people of the south east highlands to tell him stories of what happens to the person in a picture donning a sad face // "his child just died" // even more, he fabricated emotional moments: reunions of long lost friends, pretended to stab someone with a rubber knife // and the recordings of their expressions he brought back to college students in the states who could identify the emotions that were consistent with the context

not everyone was happy with this // diehard socially-learned-emotions folks claimed that the experiments were flawed // others were skeptical of the fact that fear and surprise were sticky to distinguish // and at a 1969 when these results were announced, no one was pleased // psychologists complain that emotions can't be universal because translations aren't perfect // then critics of the experiments agrued that paul should have used single words, rather than stories for emotions

paul discovered one hundred thousand facial expressions // as part of his work, he decided to learn how to do every muscle movement // and sometimes he'd stick needles into his face to electrically activate the muscle to produce the expression // what a commitment // he developed the systematic research tool for measuring facial expressions, called facial action coding system // he's buds with the dalai lama and has found overlapping theories of emotion in buddhist philosophy // a tv series called "lie to me" was created based on his work // and now he studies spies and assassins and murderers and dodgy politicians


ACCORDING TO ALEXX