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Ep191 - Dr. Paul Ekman

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Mixed Mental Arts

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In 1872, in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals Charles Darwin hypothesized that emotions were hard-wired into our biology. However, it wasn't until near a century later that Dr. Paul Ekman and his longtime collaborator Wallace Friesen proved that Darwin was right.At the time, the prevailing wisdom was that pretty much everything including the facial expressions were culturally learned and so when Dr. Ekman headed into the Highlands of Papua New Guinea he was searching for one thing: a tribe that had had no contact with the Western world. In this interview, he tells us just how that experiment and subsequent work demonstrated that human facial expressions are universal.From there, Dr. Ekman went on to turn the study of facial expressions from art into science categorizing all the muscles in the human face and codifying 10,000 different facial expressions the human face is capable of. In the process, he discovered that when people try and mask their own emotions tiny little flashes of what they're genuinely feeling flash across their faces. These microexpressions became a useful technique for telling when people are lying and for revealing their true psychological state. So impressive was this work that Hollywood created a TV show (Lie to Me) based on Dr. Ekman.Dr. Ekman has consulted on documentaries galore and most recently consulted on the amazing Pixar movie Inside Out. He also works extensively with His Holiness The Dalai Lama to bridge the findings of Buddhism (often referred to as the science of the mind) with modern neuroscience and psychology.You can read anything by Dr. Ekman and love it but Bryan and Hunter would both highly recommend starting with Emotions Revealed. It's got lots of pictures (which really helps) because when it comes to describing a facial expression for a particular emotion a picture is really worth a thousand words. It's a real treat to have Dr. Paul Ekman on The Bryan Callen Show.

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