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Facial Action Coding System

I mentioned before reading Blink and becoming fascinated with studying facial emotion with the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). I'd played with some of the online tools like Artnatomy, but apparently full FACS training takes 80 hours and requires a bunch of video; you can't learn it from a book since you have to be trained to recognize fleeting subtle expressions and what they mean.

So I ordered a training CD from the lab of Paul Ekman, who is one of the researchers who developed FACS and it finally came.

Micro Expression Training Tool

While most facial expressions last for two or three seconds, micro expressions last a fraction of that -- 1/25th of a second. These are signs of emotions just emerging; emotions expressed before the person displaying them knows what he or she is feeling, or emotions the person is trying to conceal. You can learn to spot these micro expressions and have access to this valuable information.

Subtle Expression Training Tool

With SETT -- in under an hour -- you can train yourself to see very small facial movements that often appear in just one region of the face: the brows, eyelids, cheeks, nose or lips. These small movements may occur when an emotion begins gradually, when emotions are repressed or when a person is deliberately trying to eliminate any sign of how he or she is feeling, but a trace still remains.

Understanding the code-language of the face seems like a great way to improve communication, not to mention being able to spot lies, false smiles, contempt, and the like. This seems like it would be useful in business, relationships, all sorts of situations.

I just started working through the exercises on the CD today. We'll see how it goes. Unfortunately this CD isn't full FACS though, I may need to hunt around for additional training materials.

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Comments (9)

Rob:

I got 14 out of 20 right on the BBC test. Of the six I got wrong, I thought four genuine smiles were fakes. Perhaps I should be more trusting.

In any event, with my obervational skills operating at an impressive 70% accuracy, I'll know a lot more about whether you "really" like the new Topix UI we're developing.

This is some Hannibal Lecter stuff you're getting into now. A wee bit scary.

No worries, Jeff. You want to see some scary stuff, just go to a sales seminar. :-)

Kevin:

17 out of 20 on the BBC test. Goes to show that attending college in Southern California for 5 years teaches you to rat out the fakes ;)

Rick,

I think you're about to discover (or at least, truly comprehend) the meaning of the phrase, "Ignorance is bliss."

Sometimes, not knowing exactly what someone is thinking or feeling is a GOOD thing.

Laura:

I am a communication nerd and have become wrapped up in deciphering non-verbal clues for a couple years now. I am happy to see that others are as drawn to this as I am.

sunlili :

I have interested in the facial action coding systerm,but I can't get the whole materials such as the CD&video ,can you send some material to me ?
Thank you very much!

Gavin:

I have been reading a book called "The Definitive Book of Body Language" by Alan and Barbara Pease, and it really help out for the smiling test. I got 17 out of 20 of them right. If you look at their eyes and eyebrows you can point out of a fake smile. When someone doesn't really move their eyes or eyebrows and just used their mouth, it is more then likely fake

Josh:

Hi Rick,

Did you ever find a full copy of the FACS manual? I have been looking all over for a used version of the 2001 edition CD-ROM to buy, but this is a no-go, and system is $260 brand new...

Anyway, if you have any tips can you send them to me? I'm gonna order the Training CD today! Thanks for the link.

Best,
Josh

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