Paul Ekman Essays

Paul Ekman Essays-86
The acclaimed anthropologist Margaret Mead had already spent years traveling the world, demonstrating that cultures express emotions differently.Most famously, Mead had lived during the 1920s on the small island of Ta’ū, in American Samoa, in an effort to discover if the emotional upheaval experienced by American and European adolescents was universal.She found that young Samoan women had none of the strong morality-linked feelings, like anxiety and disgust, that their contemporaries experienced in the United States.

The acclaimed anthropologist Margaret Mead had already spent years traveling the world, demonstrating that cultures express emotions differently.Most famously, Mead had lived during the 1920s on the small island of Ta’ū, in American Samoa, in an effort to discover if the emotional upheaval experienced by American and European adolescents was universal.

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Just one year later, in 1948, he dropped out of high school—he was highly intelligent, but frequently clashed with his teachers—to become an undergraduate at the University of Chicago.

(At the time, students only needed two completed years of high school to apply to some colleges.) Heavily influenced by Freud, Ekman went on to complete a Ph D in psychotherapy, studying the depressed.

By the late 1960s, Mead’s views were all but scientific consensus in the West, and emotions were considered far from universal. To understand why Ekman had problems with Mead’s research, we can look to Charles Darwin.

In 1872, he wrote , which points out that some instinctual actions—like raising an eyebrow in surprise—are shared by animals and humans.

In 1955, Mead wrote the foreword to a reprint of Darwin’s essay, but she critiqued it as a historical curiosity.

In her opinion, it wasn’t a work that held up in light of more modern research.

Artist Charles Le Brun, influenced by Descartes’ , wrote a treatise arguing that high art should make more use of exaggerated facial expressions—and he included sketches of what he considered to be some of the more fundamental expressions.

He died before his Le Brun was drawing on the practice of physiognomy, which stated that not only were faces the gateway to passions but they were also a way to access a person’s soul.

The world is being flooded with technology designed to monitor our emotions.

Amazon’s Alexa is one of many virtual assistants that detect tone and timbre of voice in order to better understand commands.

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