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Monday, July 27, 2009

The Psychology of Facial Expressions

When we interact with each other, we rely on more than just words to communicate. We also observe and interpret each other's body language and, most importantly, our facial expressions.

Paul Ekman, Ph.D., an award-winning, internationally-recognized psychologist, began researching facial expressions and body language in the mid-1950s. His extensive international research around the world has revealed that there are certain universal facial expressions that are not dependent upon culture.

 These facial expressions include: anger, fear, joy, shame, disgust, sadness, guilt, surprise, amusement, and contempt. Dr. Ekman is an expert in analyzing facial expressions, including expressions that occur within a fraction of a second. His research has important implications for interpersonal psychology, international relations, business relations, combating terrorism, criminal justice, world peace, and many other areas.

According to Dr. Ekman, most of us can learn how to read facial expressions, although he says that some people are more skilled at this than others and a small percentage of people have a natural ability to do this without any training. He says that for people who are very skilled at reading facial expressions, they can detect micro expressions, which are facial expressions that occur within a fraction of a second.

His latest book is a collaboration with the Dalai Lama and it is called Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion

If you're interested in the psychology of facial expressions, I recommend visiting Dr. Ekman's website:

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, feel free to call me at (212) 726-1006.

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