Facial Action Coding System FAQs

The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to dealing with the face.  Despite its utility, FACS is widely misunderstood.   This post answers some of the common questions about FACS. What is the Facial Action Coding System (FACS)? The Facial Action Coding System is a scientific system designed to measure facial behaviors.  Facial behaviors include individual facial movements such as pulling the eyebrows up, as well as more general facial activities like … [Read more...]

Five Tips for Reading Facial Expressions

Have you ever tried to figure out what it means when someone gives you "the look"?  Maybe they angry at something you did, or at something you didn't do.  Reading facial expressions is tricky, so here are 5 simple tips to make you a better "face reader". 1. Focus on emotions, specifically the basic emotions Quiz question: what is the facial expression of a liar? It's a trick question because there is no facial expression for "I'm lying to you". This highlights a classic beginner's … [Read more...]

Hotspot and Facial Expression Resources

Here are a couple of resources to help with recognizing hotspots and facial expressions of emotion. Humintell has compiled a list of videos with examples of microexpressions, hotspots, gestures, and emotions. Here at Social Exploits we've been slowly building a library of "interesting faces". The collection includes various facial expressions of emotion from a variety of cultures. If you have anything you'd like to see added to this list, let us know. … [Read more...]

What Are Facial Expressions?

Facial expressions are a vital part of communication. What's funny is that most people talk about facial expressions, but they don't really know what they are. This post examines what facial expressions are in the context of nonverbal communication. Facial Movements Before we can even get into what facial expressions are, we have to understand the idea of "facial movements". A facial movement is the movement of one or more facial muscles. For example the zygomatic major muscles contract to … [Read more...]

The Facial Action Coding System Explained

The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is a scientific system designed to measure human facial movements. FACS is an anatomically-based comprehensive system. This means FACS can be used to describe any possible set of facial movements. Originally developed by Dr. Paul Ekman, Dr. Wallace Friesen, and Dr. Joseph Hager, the latest version of the FACS manual can be purchased online at face and emotion. Facial Action Coding System Fundamentals The basic unit of measurement in FACS is the action … [Read more...]

The Truth About Microexpressions

There has been a lot of talk lately about the idea of microexpressions. TV shows like Lie to Me and Psych include elements based on the concept of micro expressions. The problem is that a lot of the material out there is wrong. I wrote this post to help explain what microexpressions really are, and to help separate some of the fact from fiction that is floating around the web. What are microexpressions? First of all let's get a proper understanding of what constitutes a micro expression.  A … [Read more...]

5 Signs You’re Studying FACS

You look for a "mirror app" for your camera phone Your face hurts in places you never knew it could You start coding the faces on billboards You realize how varied "neutral" really is You catch yourself imitating other people's facial expressions in public … [Read more...]