Is your face giving you away? This week, QUEST met renowned psychologist Paul Ekman, who has spent his life studying how our facial muscles involuntarily reveal emotions like sadness and anger. In 1976, Dr. Ekman and his colleague Dr. Wallace Friesen published the Facial Action Coding System, or FACS, a system that comprehensively inventoried the muscles movements that create smiles, frowns and grimaces.

Each movement is categorized in Action Unit (AUs). When you puff your cheeks, it’s known as AU13. The Frontalis muscle, located on the forehead, is responsible for AU1 or the “Inner Brow Raiser”. Over the course of their extensive research, Ekman and Friesen determined that there are at least 19 different versions of smiles! For more information and additional resources on FACS, visit the Data Face website.

If you live in the Bay Area, you can see a special exhibit at San Francisco’s Exploratorium with more of Dr. Ekman’s photos. It’s open through May 11.

Producer’s Notes: Emotions Revealed 13 March,2016Jenny Oh


Jenny Oh

Jenny is currently a Digital Media Producer for KQED Science's Deep Look online video series. She was also a long-time contributor to Bay Area Bites, KQED's popular food blog. Jenny graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television program and has worked for WNET/PBS, The Learning Channel, Sundance Channel, HBO and the University of California.

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