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Darwin's Realizations

The facial coding tool originated with Charles Darwin, who first noted in his travels on The Beagle that facial expressions may have been evolved behaviors meant to express emotion.

1.  Universal:

Even a person born blind has the same expressions. These signals are “hard-wired” into the brain.

2.  Spontaneous:

The face is the only place in the body where muscles either attach to a bone and tissue or tissue only, enabling quicker, real-time reflexes shaped by pulses from the brain. (Other muscles in the body connect to two bones.)

3.  Abundant:

People have more facial muscles than any other species.

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Ekman's Refinement

  • Along with colleague Wally Freisen, Dr. Paul Ekman codified the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) from 1965-1978, with refinements added in 2002.

  • FACS is based on over 40 facial muscles and 23 movements that correspond to seven core emotions.

  • Ekman was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2009, and is ranked as the 16th Most Influential Psychologist of the 21st Century by Scientific Psychology.

“Darwin was more than just a close and careful observer, he was an explainer. For each and every expression, Darwin asks and answers the question of why a particular movement occurs with a particular emotion.”

—Paul Ekman on Charles Darwin

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